Nicki Minaj is a female rap artist who came into the game in 2010 and has made it her mission to change it ever since. Steadily releasing a new album every two years since her debut of Pink Friday, this was the year fans were expecting something new from the Cash Money icon. The Pinkprint was released on December 15th, 2014 and has propelled Nicki to new heights. The album reflects the personal relationships that she has encountered over the past years and displays an emotional side of Nicki that we haven’t been exposed to since her earlier releases. Featuring some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop and R&B right now, The Pinkprint is a real confession on tape with melodic hooks and poetic verses.
The album opens up with “All Things Go,” which has a mystical and somewhat one-dimensional instrumental, allowing Nicki’s vocals to stand on their own. The hook borrows from R&B stylization. This is the type of track that makes you want to kick back on a Sunday with the sound pumping through your Bose speaker and your favorite music enthusiast by your side. Nicki talks about her personal life a lot more literally in this song, as opposed to the figurative metaphors she’s accustomed to using. With constant shoutouts to her family, and a hint at a proposal she said yes to ten years before, the female rapper is wearing her heart on the album sleeve with this one.
“The Crying Game” is the third song on the album and is prefaces with one of Nicki’s independent and powerful verses, this time showing a layer of vulnerability underneath the strong veneer. Her voice is distinct over a muted beat. The amazingly-talented Jessie Ware is the host of a catchy and emotional hook; a bit repetitive, the reiteration of the title lends to the storyline of the track. The translucent vocals that Jessie gifts, paired with Nicki’s vindicated verses, makes for a powerful song that persuades the listener to zone out and reflect.
There are still some songs intertwined throughout the album track list that represent the Roman side of Nicki (which she used to so effortlessly refer to as her alter ego). “Anaconda” has been confusing us since Nicki released it as the second single off of The Pinkprint on August 4th, 2014. Let’s all just admit we were a little concerned when Sir Mix-a-Lot came through our speakers bring his over-played hook from “Baby Got Back” (I know you were checking your iCal to make sure you didn’t drive through a time warp into 1992). Then the confusion got stronger as Nicki made an entrance with her provocative verse. Don’t even get me started on the video. I’m not naïve to the industry, and I know that she probably makes more money from the views on that video than every live performance she’s done of “Bed of Lies” since it’s release a few weeks back, but Nicki has proved with most of the songs on Pinkprint that she is a true artist; the few tracks that represent a harder side of her only contradict the artistic vulnerability she seems to be trying to express.
“Bed of Lies” is the antithesis of songs like “Anaconda” that come few and far between on Pinkprint. Skylar Grey’s angelic vocals set the pace for this song, and pair perfectly with Nicki’s truthful verses; asking the question – “do you ever think of me when you lie?” Unlike most Pop artists, Nicki prefers to keep her personal life personal. This leaves fans unsure of who she really is when the lights go down and the cameras turn off. This track serves as a confessional, almost as if we are listening through on a phone conversation between Nicki and the mystery man who turned his back on her.
I have to take a moment to talk about the Pharrell-inspired beat that acts as a metronome under the catchiest hook on Pinkprint. “The Night Is Still Young” speaks to the carefree teenage inside all of us who wants to roll all of the windows down on a December night and drive faster than legally permitted through back roads. This is the kind of track that makes you feel like there is no tomorrow, almost forcing you to live in the moment. I challenge you to listen to this song and think about the next deadline you have… it’s impossible (or your money back).
This review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about the track guaranteed to bring goose bumps to your arms and tears to your eyes. “Grand Piano” is the closing track on The Pinkprint. It truly acts as the closing credits for the album with a heart-wrenching acoustic vocal presentation by Nicki Minaj herself. While we all knew she was talented, this song showcases a different side of Nicki, categorizing her as vocalist over a rapper. The telling hook speaks in unison with the grand piano underlining it. This track is the definition of musical; serving as an anthem for anyone who has felt heartbreak before. While it is a bold statement I would say the album is worth buying solely for this song and the perfection that it is.
Nicki Minaj has outdone herself with The Pinkprint. She has taken the time to show her fans a different, more personal side of herself. While I think this album could do without tracks such as “Only” and “Four Door Aventador,” this is the side of Nicki the public knows best. Without a few of those to ground the album, she would lose a majority of her audience who listen for the club tracks that pump them up. On the other hand, she is proving that she has the ability to break you down just as easily. Staying true to her distinct rhyme scheme, Nicki’s raps still speak the cold truth. Coupled with elegant hooks however, the truth comes out more as a confessional than a proclamation. Whether you hate to love her, or love to hate her, there’s no denying the captivating capabilities this Queen’s native possesses. The Pinkprint only reiterates the length to which her abilities extend, and will make even the biggest skeptic a fan.