Roman Reloaded


Photo Credit: Raquel Breternitz | Daily Texan Staff

Editor's Note: This article contains explicit content.

Did anyone think pop-rap songstress Nicki Minaj would fully turn away from her erratic persona? As soon as we all witnessed her baffling performance during this year’s Grammys, it became apparent that Minaj was back, and crazier than ever. Now, the artist returns with her latest release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, enlisting the help of her demonic alter ego, Roman Zolanski.

Roman Zolanski, Minaj’s frighteningly comical alternate persona, first introduced himself on the 2010 hit single, “Roman’s Revenge.” Assertive and undeniably raunchy, listeners could imagine Roman booty bouncing with Big Freedia, followed by a night of cat-fight back-alley brawls with rapper Mickey Avalon as an accomplice. Although Minaj’s “gay twin brother” would remain dormant after the release of her first full-length debut, Pink Friday, Roman dominates the first half of her sophomore album.

“Come on a Cone” is erratic and filthy, but in all the right ways. “And I’m not masturbating, but I’m feeling myself,” shamelessly boasts Minaj. The rapper breaks barriers; using Roman as a filter, Minaj is able to be as impulsive and ferocious as she wants to be, competing against both male and female counterparts for the title of hip-hop royalty. Seriously, only Minaj could make something so appalling such as, “Dick in your face / Put my dick in your face,” into what will probably become one of the year’s most memorable lines, if not a trending topic on Twitter.

Roman’s unpredictable presence in the first half of the album works in Minaj’s favor; she uses her eccentricity to its fullest extent, resulting in declarations that would leave the foulest of rappers disgusted. It’s just over-the-top sexual hilarity, reminiscent of Khia’s “My Neck, My Back (Lick It),” or Missy Elliott’s “Work It.”

After the ninth song, though, the album veers off into a whole new direction. One moment you’re in hip-hop diva land; the next, it’s an electronic dance extravaganza, and after a few minutes of the latter, you will quickly want to return to the former. “Starships” is just bad; it tries hard to be this year’s “California Gurls,” but fails miserably. It feels awkward toward the end of the album; in between lackluster club-bangers like “Starships” and “Beautiful Sinner,” you have ballads such as “Marilyn Monroe” and “Young Forever,” which are so misplaced and irrelevant that they take away from the album as a whole.

“I am the female Weezy,” states Minaj at the end of “Stupid Hoe.” She has the potential to be, but fails because she sacrifices cohesiveness for creative expression. In messing with her multiple musical identities, Minaj’s sophomore album comes off as rushed and bloated, in contrast to the smooth impression of the album’s
first half.

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded will divide fans — those who grew up with Minaj during her mixtape days, and those who prefer the bubblegum pop queen she is now. With the rise of female rappers Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks and Kreayshawn, Minaj will have to remain tight on her rap game while also refining her pop voice if she hopes to continue dazzling with her music.

Katy Perry - ‘Part of Me’

Though her last single, “The One that Got Away,” was eerily timed with the announcement of her split from Russell Brand and the tabloid speculation of her shock and sadness, it seems Perry has gotten way over it and released this break-up anthem, “Part of Me.” She sings in her usually shrill vocals that he can “keep the wedding ring. In fact, you can keep everything (yeah, yeah) except me.” Get it, girl.

Producer Dr. Luke doesn’t stray from the formula that gives the duo five No. 1 singles (now six). In fact, you can hear parts of “California Gurls,” “The One that Got Away” and “Teenage Dream” melded into this pop machine of a song. Insufferably reductive? Sure. Painfully addicting? You betcha.

Nicki Minaj - ‘Starships’

Before the release of Nick Minaj’s “Starships,” the latest single off her yet-to-be-released Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, you can assume the conversation between her and the record executives went similar to this: “While we appreciate the frank honesty of ‘Stupid Hoe,’ we’d love to hear another ‘Super Bass.’ So fun — and so successful! If you don’t have any inspiration, take a listen to some LMFAO and Katy Perry.”

Although “Stupid Hoe” was aggravating and annoying, at least it felt genuine. This mess, on the other hand, feels like Minaj turning into yet another alter ego: the record executive drone. The beats are stale, the lyrics cliche. Maybe “Super Bass” was a fluke, but at least preserve the pop sanctity of it by not trying to repeat it.

Usher - ‘Climax’

Knowing Usher’s predilection for bedroom slow jams and the title of his latest single, “Climax,” this song didn’t appear to be anything more than R&B sexy-time jam. But Usher pulled a fast one on listeners and has somehow managed to stay ahead of the curve. A complete 180 degree turn from the Euro-trash of “OMG,” “Climax” drenches itself in the slow, dubstep-inflicted synths of James Blake and The Weeknd.
It’s a smart move for him, as the dance craze wanes down. However, more importantly, it works damn well. Usher’s smooth falsetto, crooning for a lover to stay against the icy beats goes down like a good drink.

Madonna - ‘Girl Gone Wild’

Despite the huge hype of her Super Bowl performance and worldwide radio release that preceded Madonna’s first single “Give Me All You Luvin,” the song has all but disappeared from consciousness after the Super Bowl. For an entertainer that thrives on cultural relevancy (in the best way possible), it was likely a big scare, explaining the rush release of second single, “Girl Gone Wild.”

And oh dear. Against a four-on-the-floor beat heard time and time again from Benny Benassi, Madonna unconvincingly sings, “I’ve got that burning hot fire” in paper-thin and high vocals. Madonna proved with 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor that she could still groove even with Euro-dance beats. Apparently, she now equates fun with stupidity, reaching the for the lowest common denominator. Where she once commanded listeners to Vogue, she’s now picking leftovers from Deadmau5’s musical trashcan.

Published on Tuesday February 28, 2012 as: Nicki, Madonna sound stale, Usher impressses with single