The Minaj returns in her most intimate and different record yet. Moving on from her Pink Friday era she states off the bat: ‘I had to reinvent, I put the v in vent’, and throughout the 16 tracks we’re shown a different side to Minaj than the booty-shocking quirky rapper that we’ve become acquainted with. As The Pinkprint’s title suggests, it’s a more personal spin on herself than before, one that sees her shed her multiple alter egos in favour of just herself.
Her sonic shift moves from the poppy eurodance sounds from her Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded album in favour of R&B beats. That’s not to say we don’t have a pop-like tune or two that can easily hit Top 40 – The Night Is Still Young is a classic example of this, and the one that harkens most to her previous sound. However, it’s notable that this is one track out of sixteen, and if that’s not saying anything I don’t know what is. Minaj also uses tropical vibes á la Kygo in a way we haven’t quite heard from her yet and she places more conviction in her lyrics than she’s usually associated with.
In her début album Pink Friday, she grabbed attention from being able to spit out interesting lyrics like it was in her blood, and she returns with open arms to her greatest strength. From the get go, “All Things Go” sets off the album on a strong foot and she allows the beat to serve as a duvet for her personality and her message. Sometimes it is easy to lose rap lyrics in the many rhythms of the beat and lyrics intertwining around each other. She manages to rise above this; even on her guest tracks she makes every word count. As a listener I challenge you not to be sucked in by the diva sass of Béyonce or at the very least, Ariana Grande. Instead of being dwarfed by her track mates, she holds her own with her insistence on self-exploration and mood.
The album does waver as it carries on, however. Whilst her vulnerability is still consistent throughout, the record becomes less cohesive right up until the last track, Grand Piano. It’s a lovely track which is a solo vocal from Minaj, and unlike anything you’ve probably heard her do before. No mixing between several voices on one track – it sounds like she’s bearing as much of her soul she can. On it’s own, it’s lovely but doesn’t fit, like an awkward piece of a puzzle. Kudos for her trying something different, but this isn’t her territory and she can do better.
In a R&B world which is seemingly more and more about image and what might sell, it’s refreshing to see an artist as big as Minaj try something so sincere, proving that emotions aren’t just from the début artists, indie stars and Taylor Swift. However, she doesn’t quite hit the mark, and I’m hoping that in a year or so she’ll do a Pinkprint re-up equivalent where she’s done even more tweaks and developed further as an artist. It’s a record which will certainly appeal to her fans and I’m sure win her some new ones. Brave move, Nicki, don’t ever lose this side of you.