20 January 2015
Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint
I have always promised I will review whatever I am asked to do; I will keep that as long as this blog is going. I think someone really is trying to make me unpopular with some acts - this is the second time I have reviewed Ms Nicki Minaj after I reviewed 'Pink Friday' (cleverly linked here) and if I am honest, it is not for me. It was just a ball of anger with no really direction and it needed someone to trim it down to an offensive, vicious ep. Since then, Ms Minaj has been making a name for herself - she has been in films, a judge on American Idol (for people who do not know, it is a talent show where people cover songs for 15 minutes of fame) and has even lent her name to a perfume range (this really confuses me why people do that - but each to their own). She even has a Barbie made in her image, if that is not a powerful endorsement to the popular masses, I do not know what would stop it. She is also not afraid to have a fight online, I have seen many stories about her have spats with other recording artists (how much of it is true and not just to get attention is anyone's guess), but this is not what I am going to write about; I have been asked to review her third album (for some reason, releasing a deluxe version of her debut is counted as her second album) 'The Pinkprint'. It is to be noted that musically this album is a deliberate attempt to step away from the pop-rap of the previous work and go back to a more basic hip-hop styling. Now I will try my best to be impartial here, so on with the show.
"All Things Go" is not the explosion that I was expecting to be honest. I would have thought this album would have started with something loud and brash (a bit like the image that Ms Minaj sometimes brings). But instead we are introduced to a song which is incredibly personal and honest. It shows what she wants to do with her life, her thoughts on her family and tragedies that have befallen her, what she thinks about some aspects of the recording industry and it is all done to a very slow and respectful music background. Whilst it would not be a song I would go out of my way to listen to outside of this review, it is a brave song to open this record with, and it is also a number that is hard to listen in places. It is so personal that it is hard to find anything negative about this; it is a very brave opener to this album. "I Lied" follows on, with a sea of droning synths and the opening lines are about a woman confessing that she lied to protect her own heart against being broken. I have to admit Ms Minaj's singing voice is a lot better than I was expecting and I would if she would make greater leaps as an out and out singer? But this is just a personal thing here, the song is about protecting oneself against emotional pain and once again it is heart breaking number. Well, it is until the rapping starts; it could have been a bit more, but it is just average in delivery. "The Crying Game" is the third track and it has help from Jessie Ware, this is once again another sombre number; however this time it has a bit of spirit about it. The theme of relationship breaking down which seems to be the overall theme of the album is dominant here, Jessie Ware's presence here is a welcome relief as her quality shines like a star. However, the overall mood of the album is still on a downward spiral. Fourth track "Get On Your Knees" has guest vocals from Ariana Grande (I have no idea, even after checking Wikipedia), the music is saying that the singers just need a man who is not too proud to beg for sex; once again, it is a slow number which is not in too much of a hurry to get anywhere fast. Ariana Grande's vocals on here are very generic to be honest, this song is not my type of thing; nothing about this is making these ladies sound empowered and it is with great pleasure that I reach for the fast forward button to the next number.
Another guest graces this album on "Feeling Myself", this time in the form of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. This is mostly about showing off to be honest, something that has been done in hip-hop for many years (and will no doubt be done for many more). For me, it is a waste of both ladies talents - the tune is not that impressive and the overall delivery is poor compared to other tracks on the album; a bit of a shame really. Next is a song which has been controversial for the video that was released for it - "Only". The original cartoon video has imagery which can be viewed to have certain leanings towards World War II and the Germany state; now I have looked at the video in question - I can see why these criticisms have been raised, but I can also see that this was just some rappers trying to use a powerful image of an empress in control of her world. I do think that someone should have given the artist a history lesson, but I honestly feel it was just a misguided adventure at best. As for the song, this has Drake, Lil' Wayne & Chris Brown - all of them talking about how they would like to fuck each other. A slow sultry song, the bass is heavy and the rest of the instruments are minimal at best. I am not much of a fan of the lyrics to be honest, there is much better than this and musically I have a feeling that the audience will either be grooving or a little bit sleepy. "Want Some More" is a rare beast for me on this album (and for Nicki Minaj); it is the first song that I actually find enjoyable. It finally has a groove I can understand and is not a slow parade of doom, it has a little bit of a hook that is interesting and Nicki Minaj is finally sounding like she has some venom in her that is able to respond to her critics (including yours truly). I like this version of Ms Minaj, she is not saying anything that has not happened - for once she is backing her case without bragging about her riches. This is the surprise track of the album for me. Next is "Four Door Aventador" which once again keeps it simple music wise, I like the music - the lyrical content is once a bit of a mystery to me, but I do not think I am the audience it is aiming for. I have heard a lot worse from Ms Minaj, so take from that what you will.
So at the half way point of the album (it is a long record), we are introduced to "Favourite"; this number is about wanting to be the special someone to a person who is not paying that much attention or has lost interest. Much like "Want Some More", it is much more interesting that 90% of what I have heard from Ms Minaj, it shows a vulnerable side (which is something that some people have actually criticised her for). But it is vulnerable with her own style on it, she is still saying that she is in control and it is on her terms - I cannot see what the problem with some people was her for letting herself be honest and not a total brash madam. "Buy A Heart" is the next song, this one is musically one of the better songs one here; but lyrically it is not as strong as the other numbers which sees Nicki Minaj open up to her audience. It does not reach that emotional level that other numbers have done on the record. "Trini Dem Girls" - no, just no; I am not going to go into details about it, but my deity it is below everyone in that song - let's move along. "Anaconda" samples the song "Baby's Got Back" by Sir-Mix-A-Lot and is all about sexual conquests and Nicki Minaj's ample bum. Just like "Trini Dem Girls", it takes the intelligent level of this album down a few notches; time to move on I feel, because to give this song more words is redundant. Any song that makes "Baby Got Back" sound like a saintly hymn is not something I wish to hear again anytime soon.
"The Night Is Still Young" is a clubbing song about going out, getting wasted and enjoying your youth whilst being off your head on various chemicals. I think it is apparent I am not a much of a club music fan, but I can see the appeal of this number to people. Also, after the last two numbers it sounds like it was wrote by Mozart. "Pills N Potions" is another sombre number, it is a decent number once again (in a given sense) but it just floats over me without leaving much of an impression at all. The penultimate track is "Bed Of Lies" which calls out a liar who has done Ms Minaj wrong; it is not an easy song to listen to in place as it shows the hurt that has been dealt by a broken heart. It is another number which is better than a lot of this album, the chorus hook supplied by Skylar Grey is very simple and beautiful. A heartbreaking number towards the end of this very, very, very, very long album. Ending this record is "Grand Piano" which ends the song with another singing song, this version of Nicki Minaj is much more preferable to the brash madam who is ripping up the place and not showing consideration to her own persona. The fact it took a heartbreak for this to happen is not nice (no-one deserves that sort of thing), but it shows that there is a maturity and humanity in there. A strange ending to this record, but not a bad ending (which is not something I was expecting to say).
I am not going to lie here, this is not for me; I am not the audience it is aiming for and I am not a fan of this album. It is far too long, needs a lot of tracks taken off and some altered a little bit; but I will also like to point out that there are positives on here. When Nicki Minaj starts to use her singing voice, it improves the feel a lot; when she is not being the attention grabber, it improves the feel a lot; when she is showing she is not the cartoon character that sometimes comes across, it improves the feel a lot. However, this does not save the album from being a record that I will put to one side and leave there; and the sooner I get some of those later numbers out of my head - "Anaconda" and "Trini Dem Girls" - the better. File under: This is one for other people and all the marks are for those more tender moments.
2.5 out of ten - If only there was some quality control
Top track - Grand Piano
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
You can visit the Nicki Minaj website here
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
For our Deezer users, here is one for you
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