All kinds of crazy
POP music needs a weirdo like Nicki Minaj.
Unlike Lady Gaga’s ‘‘ madness’’, which always feels scripted, Minaj comes off like a 200 per cent lunatic.
In just four minutes, the opening song Roman Holiday on her second album jumps around all over the place but somehow it works. If it’s a shot over the bow, a statement of what’s to come, it’s a crazy one.
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded dedicates its first seven tracks to Minaj alter- ego Roman, who really didn’t get enough play on her pop- friendly debut album. That means rap, rap and more rap. Lots of bragging, lots of smart- alec rhymes. It’s wild and great fun.
Perhaps most impressive is the way she lures a batch of high- profile MCS to rap on these tunes and then shows nearly all of them up at their own game.
On the gloriously wacky I Amyour Leader she is lyrically dexterous, a powerhouse. She makes a meal of Rick Ross and trades punches with a sharp, in- form Cam’ron.
Label boss Lil Wayne drops by for Roman Reloaded, where Minaj grabs all the punchy lines and pop- culture references, while Weezy provides a croaky cure for insomnia. Also, where would rap be without faux gunshot sound effects?
The lads on Champion try harder, with solid rhymes from Nas and Drake. Minaj throws a breathy pop vocal hook on the track, showing off a restrained side that’s as enticing as her nutty personas.
But it’s a raspy Young Jeezy who really shines; he just sounds so ‘‘ street’’. But how many of Minaj’s young fans will get his professional basketball references?
The album’s quality dips briefly with two ‘‘ sexy ballads’’ that are anything but alluring. PF: RR would have been slicker without them, plus 19 songs is really too many.
The listener is exhausted by the album’s end, which risks missing a crackup like Stupid Hoe.
Phase three of the album is the pop section, starting with the super- cheesy Starships. It sounds oddly familiar, like it was built in a lab by grabbing 10 number one hit singles and smashing them all together in a blender.
Pound the Alarm and Whip It offer more of the same. The former has an infectious bouncing bassline, ridiculous chorus, trance stabs, electro squeaks – it sounds like a hit. Whip It, sadly, is not a Devo cover. Both tunes come off a bit like Madonna’s new MDNA pop- dance style but chunkier.
For all of Minaj’s everything- and- thekitchen- sink craziness, one song stands out because it’s so straight: Marilyn Monroe.
Hit, hit, smash hit, this song’s destiny is written in stone. It could easily be Beyonce or Rihanna on the vocal, but Minaj nails it.