Nicki Minaj
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up



by Kirk Bowman STAFF
November 8th, 2021 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: take your medication, Roman

There's something fun about listening to an artist going absolutely insane. I don't know anything about Minaj's mental health or what she was going through at the time. But from an artistic perspective, there was clearly something going on circa 2012. Two years after her breakout album Pink Friday and her extremely overdiscussed verse on Kanye's "Monster." Seriously, there's something to be said about how ridiculously hyped that verse was, as if she didn't release the album with the much better "Super Bass" the exact same day - it's pretty messed up that we discuss her in terms of her feature on male tracks, despite her proving herself numerous times on her debut album, disregarding her numerous mixtapes. It's a good verse, but how many people were impressed and then never listened to her?

(Sidenote: this isn't me trying to defend Maraj-Petty, the person, but to reevaluate the context of this album. I guess this is me doing the whole "separate the art from the artist" thing I've always hated. What I'm trying to say here is don't buy or stream any of her music, but if this sounds interesting to you, I recommend finding other ways to listen to it. Maybe a friend has a CD you can borrow.)

Although I can't know, I suspect that reaction was part of why she leaned so hard into the commercial side she so carefully balanced with traditional artistic integrity on the diplomatic Pink Friday. Or maybe it was the massive commercial success of that album, with numerous hit singles. Either way, it ended up going full circle from commercial to avant-garde. I know this might seem like an exaggeration, but please listen to the first three tracks of this album. They are absolutely out-there, particularly "Come On a Cone." From the way she sings the titular (and oddly insignificant) line to the "dick in your face" over and over to end the song, it's a trip. The next track includes a comparison of the self to Jesus (a few years after Lennon, but also a few years before West). "Hell Yeah (feat. Parker)" features Parker, who is a fine singer I have never heard of and can't find out anything about. Speaking of features, there are so many on this album. Everyone is here, from Cassie and Ciara to Jeezy and Weezy to a variety of people (not just Parker) who are unusually unfamous for a sophomore album from a megastar like Minaj. It's really the sound of someone throwing everything at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. Because of that, it all pretty much does.

I just realized halfway through writing this that my copy's tracklist is all different from the one on rateyourmusic and Wikipedia. I don't think it really matters. This isn't a particularly cohesive sequencing, which is fine, because that's not the point. Just pick a song and hit shuffle and go for it. Or listen in the intended order, that's fine too. I just don't think there really was an intended order here as much as she's clearly capable of designing one from her past (and future, from 2012's perspective) works. If you think this is intentional, you might be right. Again, I'm not pretending to understand Minaj's mind. But it's really hard for me to listen to "I'm Legit" with the lines…

I'm like really famous, I got a famous anus
No, not Famous Amos, all this fame is heinous
Lemme, lemme hear that boy, lemme, lemme wear that boy
All this money coming in, but I never share that, boy

… and not feel like this is a very "whatever" approach. I'm not trying to argue that these are bad lines (quite the opposite, and reading them doesn't give nearly the energy and flow you should expect from Minaj) but clearly she's just kind of saying ***, right? She's no longer trying to prove herself, she already did, I just think she gave up on critics. (It certainly seems like she gave up on listening to others in her personal life.) I know it's kind of cheesy to be a critic acting like "I get it, I vibe with the artist's Vision" but 36,000 people felt the same way on the first week alone. Anyway, it's not just the semi-random lyrics, the wide variety of features, and the sequencing. It's the songwriting and production. It's a wild mix between sarcastic (?) love songs like "The Boys" and "Right By My Side," inspirational tracks like "Champion" and "Sex In The Lounge," and party tracks like "Starships" and "Va Va Voom." There's no cohesive theme here, besides maybe some well-earned braggadocio on almost every track. But it's about as far from a concept album as you can get, unless the concept is a 2010s take on Mariah Carey's Glitter.

Just like that album was full of big, of-the-moment production, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up was highly cutting edge at the moment of release - with some of the hottest producers of the moment and a heavy EDM theme, but unlike Glitter, The Re-Up succeeds in its attempts to reinvent the wheel. Let's examine probably the two most (in)famous tracks on here - "Starships" and "Stupid Hoe." The former was a massive hit, sadly the only truly iconic song on here, and it's a miracle it made it as big as it did. If I were to use one word to describe this song, it'd be weird. The very heavily processed vocal chants, the mostly nonsensical lyrics (not unique for this album, but a step forward from what people were used to on the charts at the time), and most of all, that drop. Synthesizers all over the place, a completely different key from the rest of the track, cut in half right before the end by a genuinely stirring bridge. It's kind of a masterpiece, and not at all what you would expect to top the charts.

Now for "Stupid Hoe." Hopefully anyone reading this far has grown up enough to not care how much these lyrics (seemingly) pale compared to Queen or whoever those memes were always comparing this to. "Would" is just one word (that lasts for 10 perfect seconds) and it has more power than any Green Day track I've heard. The word I would use to describe "Stupid Hoe" is experimental. This is legitimately edgier, more innovative and abrasive than anything Death Grips or JPEGMAFIA (or even our old friend Kanye, one year later) would come up with for the following decade. It whistles, it claps, it constantly woos, switching back and forth every 30 seconds or so between her vocals and something not identifiable as a human noise. I know people overuse this term, but this really is proto-PC Music, particularly someone like GFOTY.

The only real significant flaw with The Re-Up (besides featuring Chris Brown and Rick Ross, and obviously the issues with Minaj in 2021) is in its extremely laissez-faire approach. It works better than perhaps any other 27-track album, but it could be refined with trimming at least a few filler songs. That's not to say this would be better if it were a Traditional Album With A Serious Sequencing, just that tracks like "Beautiful Sinner" aren't really strong enough to stand out on this kind of record, where every second counts, and you can't really skim over mediocre tracks. But albums like this are built for people to add to their iPhone library, and that purpose - adding a fresh selection of songs to your "Shuffle All" - is fulfilled excellently here (although I do recommend listening to the whole thing sometime, it's mind-bending), better than most albums by a long shot. It's too bad this wasn't all as bizarre as "The Boys" or "I'm Your Leader," or it could have been truly superb. Regardless, while this may not have something for everyone, it was almost everything for some of us, for plenty of good reasons.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2021


Album Rating: 3.9

To clarify once again - I am NOT supporting the person behind this album or any of her recent comments or actions. I have been planning this review for a long time now. She just happens to be a really talented artist and an absolutely awful person. She doesn't deserve better, but this album does.

November 8th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

dope review and album

Contributing Reviewer
November 8th 2021


beez in the trap still bangs

November 8th 2021


Imma put her in the dungeon, under under

Know them bitches ain't eatin', they dyin' of hunger

Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2021


this was a good album. I treat it as a separate mini-album/EP and roman reloaded as the second nicki minaj album and both have a some worthwhile material and so does pink friday and so does the pinkprint, although I don't think any one of them is great. I remember listening to "monster" after liking nicki minaj a lot on We Are Young Money and checking her stuff out and as I listened to monster (I had no idea who MBDTF would feature or anything like that) I started laughing uncontrollably because it was that fucking good. overdiscussed maybe but def amazing. anyways she's good never listened to Queen tho

Storm In A Teacup
November 9th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Idk what makes her a bad person but the first song on Pinkprint is her best song.

November 11th 2021


take your medication roman take a short vacation roman

November 11th 2021


u gon be okaAaAaAaAyYy

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