Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint Album Review by Thembisa S. Mshaka

The Reinvention of Nicki Minaj
By Thembisa S. Mshaka

“I had to reinvent I but the V in ‘vent’ Cherish these nights/Cherish these people/Life is a movie/but there will never be a sequel/And I’m good with that/As long as I’m peaceful/As long s seven years from now I’m taking my daughter to  preschool“ –Nicki Minaj, “All Things Go”

Though she’s been in the business for longer than many remember, Nicki Minaj has been on the warp speed rise to fame and notoriety in recent years. She’s come a long way from spittin’ bars with Weezy in project staircases on YouTube. She was co-signed by heavyweights early on: Baby and Lil Wayne of Cash Money. Kanye and Jay-Z on “Monster”. Even the pop-soul chanteuses have collaborated with her, from Rihanna to Beyonce’—but Nicki is determined to dominate and keep her record number of Top 100 hits out of reach for another artist.

The Pinkprint is certainly a more cohesive, less confused album than Pink Friday. As her image has evolved beyond the cotton candy wigs and latex getups, with The Pinkprint, Nicki shows us a snapshot of the woman she sees in the mirror when the spotlight’s been killed. This collection is a concerted pop effort; Nicki leans into her vocal ability and showcases range. Perhaps after conquering the hip hop landscape, she felt a need to make the point that she isn’t dependent on singers. “I Lied” had me convinced there was an uncredited vocalist collaborating. Her performance is rich with emotion and shows considerable growth.

When Nicki hands over hook duty to guest vocalists, she serves up bass heavy male objectification with “Get On Your Knees” (Feat Ariana Grande) and “Feeling Myself” (feat. Beyoncé). When you make all the money in the world, who needs a gentleman? Nicki commands her men to get “on all fours” and “give me brain like NYU”, promising that she “can kill your migraine”. Unapologetic sexual power on a hundred thousand trillion, and why not? She butters her bread with it.

“Want Some More” is my kind of Nicki. She’s at her strongest when she packs her bars with syncopation and rapid-fire metaphor. She flexes her track record as an artist here, and there is no denying that she has earned every hip hop stripe. “Who had Eminem on the first album/who had Kanye calling her a problem/who the fuck came in the game and made her own column?! I gotcha rent in my pocket—so can I pay you to pop it?” As Ebro recently said on Hot 97, “if you still hatin’ on Nicki’s verses, you’re trippin’!”

“I wanna be the only one that can check you—and still respect you.” Nicki unclasps her armor for a bit on “Favorite” (feat. Jeremih), where she campaigns to be a man’s “ridah”. Now, my ears hear favorite among several, but I digress. Nicki doesn’t exactly seem like a one-man woman either. And on the very next track, “Buy A Heart”, Nicki has hers up for sale, along with trust and vulnerability. These are liabilities in today’s relationship game; this is heartbreak putting on a brave face with a well positioned sample of Alicia Keys from “I’m Ready”. The irony here is Alicia has her heart wide open on the original song—and Nicki plucks it for a song where emotion is unwelcome. That heartbreak gets aired out on a torch song you’d expect from anyone but Nicki Minaj. “Grand Piano” has smash hit written all over it.

“Trini Dem Girls” and “The Night Is Still Young” are here solely for partying. It’s just a matter of whether you like the dutty wind or the fist pump set from your DJ. And Anaconda is, well, “Anaconda”. There for shock value, and really more of a distraction than a contribution to the album from a creative standpoint. “Big Daddy” and “Shanghai” feel like more of the same; songs that could have stayed on a mixtape, threatening to make The Pinkprint play too long and wear out its welcome. Overall, her production is tight and solid; her voice is stronger than ever, both topically and in performance. The Pinkprint cements Nicki Minaj as a formidable player in the rap-pop game. She may call women MCs her “sons”, but she’s sonning the boyz too—and they know it.

Grade: B+

Favorite Tracks:  Want Some More, I Lied, Feeling Myself

Want Some More

I Lied

Feeling Myself

BUY Nicki Minaj – The PinkprintAbout the author:

Thembisa S. MshakaThembisa S. Mshaka is an award-winning recorded music campaign writer (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill among many others) and journalist whose byline has appeared in Yahoo! Music and Essence.com. Check out some of her other work for soulhead.

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