In hip-hop, losing your hunger is the cardinal sin. But on ‘The Pinkprint’, her third album – her Minaj à trois, if you will – Nicki Minaj appears to have done just that. We’re all familiar with the attention-grabbing ‘Anaconda’ and its video, but that brash sound and confrontational approach is actually atypical of the rest of the album.
When Minaj first came to fame, she proved herself to be a fearsome and exciting talent, and her guest spot on Kanye West’s ‘Monster’, where she outshone Yeezy himself as well as Rick Ross and Jay Z, was adrenalin-fuelled fury. But on ‘The Pinkprint’ Minaj is no longer the star in her own songs, with guests such as Jessie Ware, Beyoncé and Jeremih easily upstaging her.
In fact, Minaj seems to have retreated within herself. The opening salvo of tracks are far more introspective and sedate than anything she’s previously put her name to, and it’s easy to forget that this is the same limelight-stealing MC from ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Starships’.
Perhaps we should start to worry about Nicki Minaj. ‘The Pinkprint’ is a deeply personal album in places, and its style of production, as well as the subject matter, doesn’t indicate someone who is happy with their standing in life. ‘Anaconda’, buried in the final third of the album, does signal a brief resuscitation of sorts and, stripped of all the extraneous baggage, a number of tracks do display Minaj’s underrated skills as a rapper.
For the most part, though, this seems like a step in the wrong direction: a Nicki Minaj album from somebody who’s thoroughly fed up of being Nicki Minaj.
Words: Joe Rivers
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