Available on: Young Money / Universal LP
“Wait wait, fixate. Which bitch you know made a million off a mixtape?” asked Nicki Minaj on Drake’s ‘Up All Night’, one of numerous songs that the Trinidad-born rapper has stolen the show on in the last couple of years.
Pink Friday is the debut album from Minaj, who’s built up a fearsome reputation (and yes, probably a million too) off the back of a series of mixtapes and guest appearances. In her own words, from last year’s Beam Me Up Scotty tape, “behind every bad bitch there’s a really sweet girly girl”, and true to this, Nicki’s main strength has always been the way she can switch from soft to hard and show up her peers in both departments. She out-Drakes Drake on the remix of ‘Best I Ever Had’ (“You the only one who sees the real Nicki / you can see the chill Nicki ‘cos of how you deal with me”), out Eminems Eminem on ‘Roman’s Revenge’ (“I’m a bad bitch / I’m a cunt / and I’ll kick that ho / punt”), and on Kanye West’s recent ‘Monster’, left three of the biggest names in rap (and Bon Iver) eating her dust.
Unfortunately, this album’s far from the record it could have been. It starts triumphantly, with the 808-heavy ‘I’m the Best’ (“I’m fighting for the girls that never thought they could win”) and the snare-driven snapdragon ‘Roman’s Revenge’, and things stay fierce with ‘Did It On’em’, but the quality declines steadily as the album goes on. There’s nothing truly bad about Pink Friday until track 8, ‘Check It Out’, which samples ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ and features Will.i.am, and it undergoes a brief revival late on with ‘Dear Old Nikki’ and ‘Your Love’. Mostly though, it showcases an exceptional artist at her most unexceptional, and it’s disappointing that one of rap’s most liquid personalities should settle for a solid debut.