Album Review: The Pinkprint [3/5 stars]

By Abrahim Harb

Nicki Minaj has made her mark on the rap industry, changing the game forever. "The Pinkprint" is a chaotic mish-mash of tracks, maybe that is what Minaj intended, but it isn’t explicitly stated in her third studio album.

In 2009, she has consistently produced crazy raps and showed off her pop side as well. Minaj has been featured on too many tracks to keep a record of, without spitting out raps that are lazy or tired. Minaj has showed the world she can acquire a rap from just a few words and a sick beat. Nicki has show us her alter egos: Nicki Lewinsky, Nicki the Boss, Nicki the Ninja, Female Weezy, Roman Zolanski, Martha Zolanski, and Harajuku Barbie. But what is the one thing we haven’t seen? Onika Maraj, the girl who was born in Trinidad and moved to Jamaica, Queens. On this album, she shows off her softer side. 

She doesn’t spend much time trying to knock anyone down for doubting her, instead she reveals much about her personal life. However, to the listener’s dismal, the album has no direction, the tracks range from rump shaking to head shaking (in both a good and bad way). "All Things Go" is a standout introductory track, with a good beat and even better rapping. She trades in her often-pompous song style for genuine honesty and straight to the point. "The Crying Game" features Jessie Wares, has a wickedly slick beat and the singing is outstanding. The song will get you snapping your fingers with the piano/drum/guitar led beat. From here, the album takes a dive into absurdity with the next four tracks, "Get On Your Knees" (featuring Ariana Grande), "Feeling Myself" (featuring Beyoncé), "Only" (featuring Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown), and "Want Some More". "Get on Your Knees" is a song, that doesn't even attempt to be modest, blatantly stating its message—the guy messed up, bow he has to beg on his knees. 

The nonsensical placement starts after or at this next track, depending on your personal preference. In "Feeling Myself," Queen B (Beyoncé) and Minaj are on an ego trip (or proclaiming they don't need a man and will please themselves). Minaj's fellow male label mates release all their sexual frustrations in the next song, "Only". Drake’s verse is a standout on this track and it has a xylophone overlaid with a rap beat, it is too pompous for its own good, neither is it serious.

"Buy A Heart" and "Trini Dem Girls" are good filler songs, they don’t do much, other than provide some mediocre down time. "Trini Dem Girls" although has a stunning beat, it unnecessarily features Lunch Money (look beyond the name, I am sure he is a good artist). "Anaconda" takes a dive back into wack rapping and cleverly samples "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot. This song can be commended for its anthemic nature; I give this song two jiggly butts up in the air! Her rapping is coherent, making it a song for all the big booty people of all ages to enjoy. "The Night Is Still Young" is song anyone could have manufactured. It is boring and could have been turned into a duet. The next trio of tracks spew enough introspective sadness to fill up the two tubs of ice cream listeners would inhale after hearing the songs back-to-back. "Pills N Potions" is a good mix of rapping and singing, it is frank and catchy—radio ready and relatable; and so is "Bed of Lies" featuring Skylar Grey. It is wrought with sadness and the rap (which in general can be brash at times) never detracts from this message. The trio is completed with "Grand Piano," a subdued, melancholy, violin and piano led ballad that features Minaj's singing chops for more than a few bars. This trio, and "Buy a Heart," combined with the first 4 tracks make a great EP, without all the rubbish in between that detracts from a sadder, more reflective album.

But then a few tracks later, she delves back into ratchet rap spouting out typical Nicki lines in "Shanghai." This boastful rap begins to introduce the end of the album and the return to one of her alter egos—my guess, Nicki the Boss. Then in the final track "Win Again," she reclaims her title as a bad bitch in a song that teeters between rap-singing and rapping. It’s hazy, shiny pop, introspective and absurd. This sophisticated mish-mash of tracks shows off Onika and Nicki makes her way into some of the tracks. Minaj never loses her swagger as she swings through the musical jungle of rap, hip-hop and pop. She contrasts this album with simple ballads, easily understandable raps and then rattles off a few verses that make The Pinkprint a good album. Nothing compared to her boastful and unregretful freshman and sophomore studio albums, "Pink Friday" and "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," and the re-issue "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded Re-Up."

Check out all things Nicki Minaj at nickiminajofficial.com

* It also appears as an in print version here.