If Nicki Minaj isn’t yelling at the studio execs whose grimy little cracker hands are all over this album, I’ll lose all faith in her. Someone who enjoys music snuck into the studio to put a few good tracks at the beginning of the album (the good tracks are the ones where Nicki raps like a crazy person, because any vocals that sound like a mental patient are good times, as any Iggy Pop or Gun Club fan will tell you). She even gets to rap over actual hip hop beats before being told that she’s out past her curfew, and has to atone by doing a series of increasingly mediocre R&B singalongs apparently co-written by the people that make Tiesto songs and some children’s music writers with some 2004 drum machine samples to let you know that it’s supposed to be a hip hop album. God forbid they let the new rapper with a bunch of different styles actually show them off, instead of going back to the aging computer that generates songs for black singers to use as album tracks. She sings on one song, then the next one features Rihanna and I genuinely could not tell the difference at all. Why is Rihanna doing the hook here? Does Minaj seem like the sort of artist that needs Rihanna around for sex appeal or to get [demographic that enjoys Rihanna] to buy her album? Part of me wants to say that the decent songs need to be spread out through the album, but then I involuntarily choke myself for thinking like a major-label executive instead of its polar opposite, a person that enjoys hearing music.
Like a lot of people, I wasn’t intending on listening to this until I heard her verse on Monster. Kanye claims that he and Jay worked on it nonstop with her for four days, which seems completely implausible to me. First of all, if he came up with something that good after four days of work, wouldn’t his album have a hundred incredible verses instead of one? Wouldn’t he have, at some point in the past, spent a couple weeks and just blown the roof off everyone? Sorry Mr. West, but I’m going to give her the credit for that one, and just assume that other people spent four days on all of her other verses to make sure they were as generic as possible.
It’s fairly obvious that the label has no confidence in Minaj’s abilities at all, especially when it comes to rapping, seeing as they get fucking Drake to do a verse in between her semi-autotuned choruses that, again, SOUND LIKE RIHANNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA MAKE IT STOP. It even has string samples, and not even with a cool mid-90s east-coast “I’m going to beat you to death with this viola” vibe.
Then it’s the will.i.am track, and I would just refer to the Kanye review where I already called everything will.i.am has ever done awful but seriously, we’re talking about a guy that decided to rap over Imagine and then sell it to use in an ad, so I really doubt he has the judgment to decide that he should stop making any sort of sounds. This will.i.am track is so bad it actually makes me dislike the Think break, but in my defense I’ll dislike any song that has bubblegum “oh, oh” with toy-sounding pianos and fucking-hell-I-thought-we-moved-past-autotuning-every-single-vocal-a-while-back.
But thank god, we get another hip hop track after that to apologize and she actually gets to make non-singing sounds with her mouth. Okay sure, there are those lame dance-pop synths again, but they’re at least a little more acceptable here. Kanye shows up to remind us that Minaj is a much better rapper (I knew that already thanks, get back in the studio and remix this album).
Okay so quick hits on how to make the next Minaj album better:
-rap in those different personalities, those are cool, especially the angry-sounding ones
-get hip hop producers not r&b producers
-get rid of THOSE synths, the ones that sound like third graders’ recorders
-when you make an incredibly good song like Massive Attack (note: that's the song with the video in the desert where she shows off her clones of the girl from Lazytown), put it on the album