It should be clear that I’ve never been what you would consider a “fan” of Nicki Minaj.
There have been a few songs that I enjoy listening to and then there are those songs that I don’t necessarily enjoy, yet know every word. I’ve always felt that Nicki Minaj was a talented singer, but masked her talent with repetitive rap patterns, a mix of lyrical genius and absurdities, and confusing alter personas. Which is why after listening to Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up, I was pleasantly surprised with the sound that Minaj presents in this 8-track EP, but it’s not long before this revamped sound quickly digresses back to the Nicki Minaj that I don’t particularly enjoy.
Up in Flames, the first track on Nicki Minaj’s new EP, opens with a grime-esque choral interlude that sets a completely different tone from Minaj’s previous records. While Minaj raps, as profane as always, the chorus continues their melody quietly in the background, nicely contrasting the harsh rap of Minaj’s lyrics.
Freedom follows in a similar pattern retaining a more relaxed vibe and melody than Minaj’s previous club ready tunes. This track also offers an excellent showcasing of Minaj’s singing ability.
The next 5 tracks to follow are all collaborations with some big names in the Hip Hop industry, including Little Wayne, Ciara, and Parker. Hell Yeah and High School remain consistent with the previous songs, but in I’m Legit the old Nicki Minaj surfaces. Alternating between a fast-paced, buzzing rap and a disjointed, robotic one, it is Ciara that brings the enjoyable and smooth hook of this track, rather than Minaj herself.
Slipping even further back to the old Minaj, I Endorse These Strippers is filled a repetitive droning, but the clever wordplay Nicki Minaj is supposedly known for is completely absent from this track. There is a brief moment where Minaj decides just to repeat the word “boobs” over and over. I Endorse These Strippers could definitely afford to be missing from this album. In contrast, The Boys offers a successful mix of hard rap and soft anthem. While she’s back to a rhyming words with the exact same word streak, this track is much more successful than those that precede.
Va Va Voom, the final track on Minaj’s EP, is obviously intended to become the next Superbass. It is the perfect song to end this album. It manages to successfully showcase Minaj’s full range of genre exploration by tying in the smooth lyrical style of the first half of the EP with the old Nicki that reappears in the final half.