The fall of ‘Roman Reloaded’

“Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” by Nicki Minaj is the weakest album I’ve listened to in the last three years. Disappointing, since she is talented.

Every song features an artistic failure on some level. On most songs, the beats sound as pleasurable as an EKG flatlining. The hooks are often irritating. On a few other songs, Minaj decides to perform in an extremely irritating breathy voice that invokes Lil Wayne at his worst from “Tha Carter IV.”

Keep in mind, I usually like Minaj’s voice as she sounds like Harley Quinn from “Batman.” It’s just not used well here.

The guests on this album include Young Money mainstays Lil Wayne and Drake. Rick Ross, Cam’ron, and Nas also contribute their voices. With the exception of Nas, most of the guest verses are subpar. With the exception of Lil Wayne (for all the wrong reasons), most of the guest verses are unmemorable.

Considering that Minaj often delivers spotlight stealing performances as a guest (like on Kanye West’s “Monster” or Drake’s “Make Me Proud”), she got shafted this time around. The original “Pink Friday” had Kanye West flowing from Mount Olympus for half a song. Where was he this time?

“Roman Reloaded” is split between rapping and pop songs like the original “Pink Friday.” This is a failure of the record industry as the pop songs jettison Minaj’s personality and suffer for this. It’s very telling that one of the few popular female rappers needs to dilute her albums this way.

While the rap songs feature annoying, obnoxious beats (“Come on a Cone” has a one bar loop for instance), the pop songs struck me by incorporating dubstep elements like build ups and drops. Like other elements on this album, these were incorporated poorly and add nothing. I mean, they didn’t have to be monolithic walls of bass but I felt like they were trying to be like Skrillex with those songs.

One of the album’s saving graces is Minaj’s personality. When she raps, she often raps about being a boss, casually dismissing haters and frequently bringing up both her appearance at the Superbowl and her Grammy awards.

However, her use of hashtag rapping (similes without the word “like”) is egregious. On the song “Roman Reloaded,” she ends a verse with the line, “All you hoes crying – Christopher Bosh.” I had to Google that one – gym class dropout.

At the end of the last song, “Stupid Hoe,” Minaj defiantly declares, “I am the female Weezy.” I would agree with this statement wholeheartedly while noting that Minaj has yet to make her version of “Tha Carter III,” Lil Wayne’s best album.

Hopefully she doesn’t make something like “Roman Reloaded” again. I can’t recommend this album at all – Roger Ebert.