For a music superstar who has several personas living in her creative genius, it almost makes sense that Nicki Minaj should defy all logic when it comes to musical genre.
When she dropped her album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded this week, she set herself up for two career tracks — one being Nicki Minaj, the tough Queens rapper who spits lines like snakes spit venom, and the other being Nicki Minaj, the colorful, sassy pop songstress who wants to make you pump your fists. So, does this mean she has reloaded herself as a pop star as well as MC and picked up where “Super Bass” left off?
Being that her whole persona is built on being colorful, loud, feisty, brash and fashionable, she’s the perfect combination of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Britney Spears and, yes, Lil Kim, paving her way for what looks to be a career full of success. The kind of success that can satisfy urban radio, which supported her from her grimy mixtape days, but also satiate the appetites of her fans who loved when she blasted “Super Bass” on the Femme Fatale Tour alongside Spears.
She’s a conundrum. She exists in two worlds and seems unapologetic about it. Roman Reloaded toes the line, thanks to hip-hop production creds from Hitboy and Pop and Oak — who created hard-rap tracks — and then she gets schizo with RedOne and Dr. Luke, making really, really big pop records.
The pop songs work, but given that Nicki has spent so much more time as a rapper, she doesn’t seem to have found her pop voice just yet. They are, at times, mediocre. Her ability to play different characters on the rap songs is what makes her stand out and makes her so engaging. She’s a dude one moment, British another, some other combination of gender and nationality the next. So it feels like finding a pop persona should come a bit easier for her.
While she might be wavering at times sonically — trying to nail down what her pop imprint will sound like — visually, she looks like a pop star. She wears colorful wigs, body-hugging couture and costumes that unless you’re a pop star or it’s Halloween, you could never get away with it. Between the music and the look, she’s already a foot and a half in the pop door.
Reloaded is her first full entry into the world of pop: It’s confessional at times (“Marilyn Monroe”) and just plain fun others (“Starships”), and somewhere in there lies “Nicki: The Pop Star.” She’s not fully realized yet, but she’s bucking the system. And much like Nicki’s persona Roman, she’s aiming to break free from her hip-hop boarding school and play in the pop big leagues. Let’s just hope she never forgets where she came from.
She’s definitely a femme fatale, like her pal Britney, and on her way to pop mega-stardom.
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