Pop Goes The Anaconda: Why Nicki Minaj's New Album Is Artistically Confused

Hip-hop Nicki? Feminist Nicki? Cartoon Nicki? Her overlong new record suggests she hasn't quite decided who she wants to be...
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Nicki Minaj has spent the last year comfortably establishing herself as one of the most exciting hip hop artists in the charts. In a year when fans flocked to worship at the alter of Iggy Azalea, and Azelia Banks continued to stall, Minaj quietly dropped ‘Looking Ass’, signaling a step away from the various pop savvy egos behind Pink Friday to a more focused single image.

Let me begin this by asking; why is everyone collaborating with walking brats flesh light Ariana Grande? Her voice sounds like a pissed off Sloan girl sighing at the peasants in Peter Jones. Lets leave this weird trend of legitimising her career in 2014.

Pink Print is a confused album. At 20 tracks long, it’s easy to think that Minaj had little concrete vision when creating the record. It feels like an uncomfortable cobbling of varying artistic directions with none taking notable precedence.

The albums opening tracks feel a lot like the work being produced by Jhene Aiko - a slower, more reflective RnB sound that gives the album an emotional edge that Pink Friday lacked, although elements of ‘Fly’ can be heard in ‘All Things Gone.’ From the progression of the rest of the album, it seems Nicki and her producers feared stepping too far away from the cartoonish bite of her previous mainstream releases. Yes, this is very much Minaj’s break up album, and with a bit more work it could have been an interesting cross over between tracks like ‘Pills And Potions’ and harder sounds like ‘Only’. Instead the album is diluted by chart friendly tracks that although not bad, jar the album’s concept.

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None achieve this more than the headline-grabbing ‘Anaconda.’ ‘Anaconda’ is a great sample of a classic track, and Minaj intelligently turns it from a borderline misogyny into an anthem for modern feminism. It’s the same catchy affective pop tune Minaj produced through her Pink Friday era, although in the context of a second album, it seems like an easy win from a far more challenging and intelligent artist.

Whilst a flawed compilation, the stand out tracks give an insight into the album this could have been. Although ‘Looking Ass’ was shamefully only a single release, ‘Only’ serves it’s purpose as the record’s vent track; Drake and Wayne’s verses aren’t revolutionary, but they play great jokers to Minaj’s Queen Of Hearts. This works well with ‘Feeling Myself’ as a pro- self love interlude in the midst of an album that largely feels about the suckyness of heartbreak. ‘Trini Dem Girls’ is unexpected but a welcome dance hall interlude.

In the end, Pink Print is not a bad album content wise, but as a body of work it is unsure where it lies among the plethora of Minaj’s identities. The contrasting reflective RnB and chart savvy pop would have served a two album release far better than the confused delivery here. Pink Print is a good album, but after her work over the past four we’ve come to expect far greater from arguably one of the strongest voices in rap today.

Pink Print is out now and available here/