- On Air
- Music News
- Calendar of Events
- Support WERS
- About WERS
When Nicki Minaj released her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded last April, she was met with mixed reviews, the bulk of the criticism being attributed to the album’s second half, which was almost exclusively devoted to the Pop and Dance genres. Unbeknownst to all, Minaj had another trick up her sleeve – on the rap-heavy “Hov Lane,” she warned, “When I re-up on ‘Reloaded,’ I’m ‘a hurt them bad,” and, with her re-release this November, she did just that.
The Re-Up features the original Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded CD, with the addition of a ninety-minute DVD and seven new songs that prove to be, by far, Minaj’s best compositions to date. From the beginning, Minaj makes it entirely clear that neither she nor her work, are to be taken lightly. “Up In Flames” opens with allusions to Maury Povich and R. Kelly so audacious that only listening could do them justice. Minaj is boastful of her successes, her wordplay when referring to her net worth and industry connections clever enough to uphold her cockiness. She calls out the competition, claiming, “B*tches ain’t got punchlines or flow / I have both, and an empire also.” Indeed, she does. In the span of only three short years, Nicki Minaj has been able to put out two albums, slay the charts with her singles and features, earn multiple awards and participate in worldwide tours, score endorsements with the likes of Pepsi, MAC, OPI, and Adidas, and launch her own fragrance, with wigs and a clothing line currently in the works. Her position atop the industry is undeniable; Minaj is set to become a mogul in her own right and, knowing this, she touts her accomplishments all throughout The Re-Up.
Not only is “Up In Flames” lyrically sick, but the production is amazing. Like a page borrowed from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, its multiple layers and textures, which include notes from the piano, strings, a clapping beat, and vocals from a choir, lend it a likeness to many of Kanye West’s works, notably “Power.” Minaj compliments it perfectly, her flow marked with bold enunciation and a paced delivery that place greater weight on the creativity of her rhymes.
“Freedom,” Minaj’s latest single, features the Trinidad native calling out the industry fakes and staking her claim in pop culture, but without the “over-the-top” attitude expected from the Queens diva. Instead, the beat is strikingly mellow, and her tone is frank enough to create moments of poetic genuineness. The video itself is symbolic, containing religious imagery with allusions to Noah’s Ark and Jesus himself and featuring an almost makeup-less Minaj singing about her own liberation. Her singing is also featured on “High School” which, with it’s vulgar love story and Lil’ Wayne feature, is already a New York radio favorite.
Other than the collaboration with her sensei, The Re-Up features a slew of guest artists, including fellow Young Money artist and Pink Friday: Reloaded tourmate, Tyga. Minaj seemingly resurrects Ciara’s career via the chorus of the brash and speedy “I’m Legit,” dubbed the club’s latest “twerk anthem,” and does the same for Cassie with her contributions to “The Boys,” a sick fusion of slick rhymes and contrasting bubblegum pink sound for which the video ends with Minaj pulling a flame-thrower from her arsenal and furiously burning a barbershop down to its foundation.
But, if there’s anything the audience should take away from her work, it’s that she’s a businesswoman. Nicki Minaj knew exactly what she was doing when she released her sophomore album. She knew that she would balance that content with a re-release, and took advantage of that opportunity to introduce two up-and-coming artists that she is signing to her new label. Parker Ighile, a British-Nigerian producer who worked on Rihanna’s latest album Unapologetic, provided his rich vocals for the chorus to “Hell Yeah.” He also produced the track, on which Minaj expresses her loyalty to those who have been “rockin’ with her” since the beginning, and defends herself from the critics following her much-publicized American Idol fall-out with fellow judge Mariah Carey. “I Endorse These Strippers, ” (the track’s title says enough) features newly signed rapper Brinx Billions, who also appeared with Busta Rhymes and Minaj on her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty, and will be releasing a mixtape of his own, due in January. Only time will tell what’s in store for these artists’ careers but, with their evident talent and the powerhouse that is Minaj backing them completely, I’ve got a feeling that they’ll do just fine.
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up is available at Best Buy, FYE, iTunes, and Amazon.