« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday'

Nickiminaj On her breakout slow jam “Your Love,” Nicki Minaj raps, almost as if she’s speaking to herself, “Anyway, I think I met him in the sky. When I was a geisha, he was a samurai / Somehow I understood him when he spoke Thai.” It’s just another fantasy clattering around the head of this Queens-bred imagineer of urban music whose sense of identity is so whimsically schizoid that she makes Lady Gaga seem as fixed as Barbara Bush.

Switching accents, hair colors and musical styles, Minaj has absorbed a little something from most every bombastic female in the last 30 years of pop on her debut album, “Pink Friday.” Remember the Spice Girls and all their manufactured personas? Minaj rifles through all of them at warp speed — and it’s that very quality that makes her an electrifying talent and at risk for permanent disassociation from herself.

When she lands on a style, Minaj stays committed to it for the course of the song, even when it sounds awkward. The dis track, “Roman’s Revenge,” finds Minaj huffing and puffing with a hoary-sounding Eminem, slinging insults over a stagnant club-tech track. “Did It on ’Em” is aggressively scatological but with “A Milli” producer Bangladesh onboard, it at least fares better musically.

The fact that those songs are front-loaded on “Pink Friday” suggests that the lone female MC of Lil Wayne’s Young Money crew wants to keep credit with the crowd that followed her mix tapes but the tracks lack free-wheeling energy. They feel premeditated and, at worst, as mere pandering to a male demographic. It might be a failure of the format as much as Minaj’s — the most exciting rap and hip-hop isn’t captured in the smothering confines of the album; it’s in the tossed-off mix tape, the ultimate underground pass-around.

Even though her roots are elsewhere, Minaj sounds better on the “Pink Friday” tracks that are more squarely in the club R&B vein, which she almost always spikes with enough rap to remind anyone that she isn’t another Beyonce or even Sasha Fierce, not by any stretch. “Fly” makes good work out of its Rihanna cameo — while the dark glamour bird soars, Minaj skitters around her with her vulnerable but choppy rhymes, equal parts tough woman and big softie.

“Pink Friday” shows Minaj is on the cusp — considering her facility with accents, she could be the perfect person to find a new patois, one that’s built of separate musical languages but without breaking any of them down. Or she could get caught in the net, punished by the relentless category police or her own doubt of how far she can roam. But one thing is for certain: she’s got the fight and the imagination on her side — and a good neon wig never hurt a girl either.

--Margaret Wappler

Nicki Minaj
“Pink Friday”
Cash Money
Three stars

Comments () | Archives (21)

roman's revenge is the best track on the album. end of story.

I love Nicki Minaj. Better yet I love what she stands for. She is what most would call inspirational. She did what all immigrants want to do. She is now successful.

The album is definitely epic

my sister is kendra watkins my mom is tiffanie gillis my dad (step dad)is jason gillis my best friend is sabrina laggazi and my causens are antonio floris robin lovelace and chante haskins

This album is the worst rap album I have ever heard...I should have listened to I tunes reviews, because i spent money on trash...smh

I've never loved every song on an artists album before.. this is def a first. It has every emotion that I could possible feel on this album. From proud, depressed, sad, happy, to love, this album puts the biggest smile on my face. Love this, and have been waiting for a while for it to come out. I'm very pleased with it. =] ITS BARBIE BITCH =x

the album is trash especially number 6 like wdf??????? all of the music on every pinkfriday disk should mysteriously delete its self

Nicki Minaj is da best female rapper alive. Pink Friday is gonna hit number 1!!!!

The album is very cohesive and keeps your attention through out the entire album. I love this album , and I believe they nay sayers are being hard due to ....Actually I dont know, I really dont understand why people actually hate her lol. I have seen people actually dedicated their twitter page to bashing her everyday. I dont listen to katy perry, because I dont really like most of her music, but I would rush to every post about her just to make sure theres some type of hate in the comment section.

Over all I love this album , 9/10

The Album is AMAZIN from begining to END!


nickis album is so freakin hot i give it an 100 go nicki

You can't review this album without mentioning the song Blazin. That song blows my mind. Though I suppose it has more to do with Kanye than her. Payback for "Monster" I guess.

I've heard the album and I've had my own thoughts about it so I thought I'd read threw the reviews, so far they all pretty much match my thoughts. The album is poorly done. Not sure if its the themes or just her rap skills or a mix of both but its so... lifeless? Nicki seems more confused or just out of touch with something. I think she's having to much pressure put on her. Idk, I'd give the album a 3/10.

I can't rap, my question is can I get a deal too? Honestly, this girl couldn't rap even if Tupac, Biggie and KRS-ONE wrote her rhymes!!! She rode in on Lil Wayne's coat tails and since she had a gimmick, her freakishly large behind and the loud bright clothes, makeup and hair she got on some tracks, but when her part on a song comes on I can't stand it! I have to change the station.

Nicki MInaj need to understand that yeah you thanks all these females artists as your influence buht when you listen to her in romans revenge she says"is that the thanks i qet for putting you bitches on" like c'mon how you pose to say they yuh role model buht yu alwaiz dissinq them. && besides she repeats ha self in majority of ha song nuffin is nu u can almost xcept how ha next tracc qon sound. If its not a sample from previous artist its qon b ha jus acting how she alwaiz act 24/7.

The saddest is thing is that she is considered the standard for female rappers. She is not doing anything impressive, she doesn't spit bars, what she's doing is elementary rhyming. The bottom line is that if anyone disagrees with her overnight success as an artist they are called haters, in reality what it is that these so called haters are looking beyond the commercial aspect of marketing and seeing the lack of artistic ability. If you are going to come out and represent as the best, you better come harder than this. She is not in anyway stepping on the toes of underground artists such as Jean Grae. Grae will not be commercialized, a true epitome of hip-hop. She is not selling her body, most guys I know are not saying she's nice lyrically, they are looking at her behind. That's just being real. It's funny how all the female rappers who go hard are left unknown because they can hold their own next to the male artists but the ones who walk around in close to nothing is what is considered the female role in hip-hop. This crap is not hip-hop! Hip-hop stood for more than just fitting in, it is the least desired genre right now because of these weak rappers cashing in off of a nice beat. It is frustrating and degrading because the profits of dumbing down the likes of African-American music, is killing hip-hop making it more pop. It is not a coincident that the best of hip hop no longer exists, they said hip-hop wouldn't last and now I'm starting to believe maybe they were right.


Nicki Minaj was better in the Underground. End of story

From the moment I first heard her on Monster Ive been hooked, and its a total genre shift for me. I think the reason she's achieved overnight success is due to her VOICE, I actually LIKE listening to her, even if her rap aint up to scratch (according to some reviewers) I dont really care what she says, its the way she says it.


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: