Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday
Official release date: November 22
Why is Nicki Minaj's debut album coming out the same week as one of the maybe three or four other rap albums from this year that could possibly outshine it? Who knows! More importantly: What's it sound like?
Nicki's output — limited so far to buzz-generating mixtapes, high-profile guest appearances, the underrated Young Money crew album, and a few lead singles — has been split between her early, wordplay-obsessed, shit-talking persona and her softer, gentler, radio-friendlier side. On Pink Friday, for better or worse, it's the latter option that gets the most play: Of the fourteen tracks, only three (“I'm the Best,” “Roman's Revenge” featuring Eminem, and “Blazin'” featuring a Simple Minds sample) find her really going in. The rest are all, to differing extents, a bit bubblier, the kind of sing-along jams that may be a slight disappointment to everyone who drooled over her “Monster” verse, but will certainly make her accountant happy. (There's also a great deal of what Kanye recently dubbed hashtag rap.)
A few other stray thoughts: Nicki rhymes heroin the drug with heroine the term-for-an-admired-person on “Blazin',” which feels like it really should happen more often; on the same track, Kanye interpolates Rick Ross's “B.M.F.,” only instead of thinking he's famous drug dealers, he thinks he's Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld; Drake also makes an appearance, and spends his time partially referencing the non-cool Matthew Fox show.