Nicki Minaj is a one-of-a-kind talent.
That's why her decision to spend so much time trying to be anyone but herself on "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" (Young Money/Universal) makes so little sense.
The first half of "Roman Reloaded" is the Nicki we've come to love. The pride of Jamaica, Queens, is brash and in your face, messing with gender roles and delivering all sorts of zingers. In first-rate hip-hop like "I Am Your Leader," where she holds her own with Rick Ross and Cam'ron, and "Champion," where she takes on Nas and Young Jeezy, Minaj cements her rep as hip-hop's brightest new star. When she pays tribute to Jay-Z in "HOV Lane" and faces off with Lil Wayne in the title track, she's hard to beat.
However, there's another side to "Roman Reloaded," where hip-hop isn't enough for Minaj. She wants to conquer pop as well. That's where we get the current RedOne-produced single "Starships," which is like a twisted Katy Perry song, and "Marilyn Monroe," which is like a Rihanna ballad. This side of Minaj has her moments, in the sweaty dance pop of "Pound the Alarm" and the clubby "Whip It," which could be mistaken for a J. Lo single. But there are way too many anonymous dance numbers like "Automatic" and "Fire Burns" that could have come from a dozen singers.
Given her larger-than-life personality, Minaj may have enough charisma to burn, but that doesn't mean that she should.
"Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"
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BOTTOM LINE Nicki Minaj tries to offer something for everyone