Since first pricking up ears with her guest spots on Lil Wayne’s Gangsta Grillz 3, Nicki Minaj has been hailed as the next great female MC. Since then, her US chart success with R&B single ‘Your Love’ and standout verses on Young Money’s ‘We Are Young Money’ have seemingly sealed her reputation, making Pink Friday probably the most hotly anticipated solo debut since Doggystyle. No pressure, then.
Fortunately, Minaj has just about got away with it. While not the stone-cold classic fans may have been expecting, Pink Friday is still packed with highlights. The lurid ‘Roman’s Revenge’ sees Eminem revive his Slim Shady alter-ego for a despicable duet, and while he’s not exactly stretching his thematic palette, augmented by a high-pressure B-line, he sounds more viscerally energetic than he has on his own records for some time. ‘I’m the Best’, meanwhile, is a comparatively bubblegum hip hop confection which Minaj’s ballsy flow dominates.
In fact, the main flaw of the record is that Minaj’s versatility – she sings! She raps! She sets Auto-Tune to zero! – has invited equally esoteric production, meaning that, despite her stated aim to create an unskippable album, Pink Friday sounds more like a compilation than a symphony.
That’s not to take anything away from Minaj’s awesome abilities – her delivery is excellent throughout, and she possesses ODB’s ability to cycle her voice through a hundred different emotions, accents and/or degrees of insanity in a single bar. But ultimately Pink Friday leaves us wanting more.