Released: April 2, 2012 (Young Money / Universal)
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was one of those album’s where everyone was either completely murdered by or completely afraid of purchasing because, truth be told, it was a lil’ unexpecting when I purchased it back in 2012. But before even thinking about Roman Reloaded, think back to 2010’s Pink Friday; a confessional yet over-the-top R&B record that dished the frills and kills of Minaj’s versatility as a vocalist and hard-core rapper (uhhh, don’t tell me you don’t know the classic “Moment 4 Life” or “Super Bass”?). She was at the top of the hip-hop game, and one of the most recognized faces of the 2010s era (well, she still is, AND her ass).
Then Roman Reloaded came along, and snatched everyone’s edges and weaves… for the right and wrong reasons. I remember the press completely gagged by the record, with many of them suggesting Ms. Thang had handed in her hip-hop coat for a more overdramatic and luxurious offering. In part, that wasn’t necessarily the case, because Nicki Minaj always had the ghetto fabulousness in her veins, she just decided to dive head-first into a more diverse field of talents and blend her party with another party. And what does that make? Party + Party = Bigger Party. But enough of my buffoonery and shenanigans, and let’s talk one of the 2010’s most controversial yet fantastic records, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is divided into two evenly spaced sounds; the first being a sporadic twist in contemporary hip-hop and ridiculously devilish themes, whereas the second half is a bunch of heavy-indused eurodance jams that skip around the fields of EDM and electro house essences. Now you know why it was a pretty questionable record of the moment, don’t ya? Opening the record was the theatrically epic tune “Roman’s Holiday”, which is probably one of her most well-rounded recordings in her career. The first moment I listened to it, I died… and I tell ya, that was a good thing (well not really, but you get what I’m tryna say…). Of course, follow-up jams like “Come on a Cone”, “I Am Your Leader” and “HOV Lane” are extremely riddled with self-absorbed lyrical content and spread-like-toast synths and background beats, but comparing this to contemporary jams, these stand out like a sore thumb. It’s quite funny thinking of these tracks and how fresh and current they come off, in compared to other electronically-infused hip-hop songs these days that, no tea or no shade, come off a lil’ bit cheap.
But typically, Ms. Thang always hits the jackpot of emotions and gratitude when she deals with more emotionally equipped anthems, so looking back at jams like the triumphant “Champion” and love-twisted “Right By My Side” seem so classic and memorable that it’s literally giving me ol’ teenage vibes. But of course, Nicki’s execution of overly gangsta realness sure did the trick back in 2012. Remember “Beez in the Trap” y’all? I mean, come on. If y’all didn’t know this completely notorious yet insanely catchy anthem, then you’ve clearly not been looking hard enough through YouTube playlists, because this is a damn comical classic! But that free-style-esque bridge sure got the school kids cracking up and rapping the shit out of this! But hey, if Ms. Nicki did the job, she did the job.
But what Ms. Thang completely sold me on back then was probably one of traditional hip-hop’s biggest taboos; converting to mainstream pop and dance music. Yes y’all, dance tunes without any prominent traces of hip-hop and R&B. And to me, that was my instant love about Nicki Minaj; her ability to adapt to the rise of a trend (which, to me, was the large wave of EDM) and stretch it completely outside her comfort zone. Of course, she had done it before on songs like “Check It Out” with Will.I.Am, but this was not a lil’ nugget… this was a complete album-invested strategy. The biggest example is “Starships”, an insanely fun pop anthem with quintessential disco guitar riff’s and an big EDM drop. But while it did justice for the pop world, my absolute favourite was the crowd-pleasing jam “Pound the Alarm”, which was F.I.R.E. to the house gods! I remember watching Ms. Thang at her concert in Auckland, New Zealand back in November 2012, and once this song hit the stage… damn you were lucky to make it out alive. THIS WAS A KILLER OF AN ANTHEM! But of course, the goods were never weak or old; on the baby-dollish electro house anthem “Whip It”, she fused the entire Roman Zolanski and pop-tastics twists all into one, and then on “Automatic”, the singer showcased a start-to-finish singing delivery which kinda worked in her favour.
The latter part of Minaj’s pop section was more mid-tempo jams, which at the times, I absolutely loved. Some songs like “Young Forever” and “Marilyn Monroe” channel a sugary sweetness that the rapper had rarely channelled, up until her raw deliveries on 2016’s The Pinkprint. But then, she would elaborate on more confessional anthems like the painful “Fire Burns”, which is probably the best track on the latter part of the record, and the dancehall-infused number “Gunshot”, which showcases traits of Minaj’s home of Trinidad & Tobago. But of course, the biggest twist wasn’t her shocking move to pop; it was “Stupid Hoe”, the notorious diss anthem that had me snatched. My lord, I remember when this track came out; the entire internet BLEW TO PIECES, and EVERYONE tried to freestyle this anthem like it was the bloody Hunger Games. Nevertheless, it was a silly, immature yet completely fierce and sharp rap that completely tore the pop community in pieces.
And there you have it; my completely saturated review on one of my favourite records, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Jesus listening to this record again gives me those early 2010 vibes, which may seem not too long ago, but trust me, that’s quite some time ago. It’s probably one of the most diverse yet radio-friendly record’s that I’ve come across in quite some time, and I’ve got thousands of album’s at home, so it’s not questionable. Of course I don’t really mind her music now, but the peak was definitely amidst the success and promotion of the Roman Reloaded days and was quite an gratifying moment for Ms. Nicki Minaj. Now, to all my follows; if you don’t know a thing about Ms. Thang or haven’t even given this record a try—which you should’ve since it was like, released five years ago—then this is a good starter. For me, it’s a pretty remarkable record, not because it pulls my heartstrings or brings fluttering emotions to my heart, but it’s just a fun, sugary, brilliant mixture of hip-hop, dance, electronic house and pop music. Worth buying a copy, whether you are years late.
Listen to these album songs:
- Roman’s Holiday
- Beez in the Trap
- Right By My Side
- Pound the Alarm
- Whip It
- Fire Burns
- Stupid Hoe