A lot has happened in the seven months since Nicki Minaj issued her sophomore effort, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.” The pop-rap minx has gone on her first headlining tour, issued a perfume (a clothing line is also in the works) and joined the judges' panel on “American Idol.”
As her profile continues to rise, Minaj has also seen her artistry scrutinized. Her sophomore effort fueled contention among critics and rap purists, many of whom felt the platinum-selling femcee had turned her back on hip-hop in search of pop success.
With “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded -- The Re-Up,” Minaj attempts to right some of the missteps of that disc. And for the most part, she does. Minaj's wheelhouse remains her ability to pair her pop sensibilities with the raw, razor-sharp raps that made her a game-changing talent to watch. While “Roman Reloaded” felt bogged down by generic, 128-beat-per-minute rhythms, the eight songs Minaj churned out for the reissue do a better job of uniting her two fan bases.
Still, Minaj is at her best when offering acid-soaked tongue lashings. A feud with fellow “Idol” judge Mariah Carey makes its way into the biting “Hell Yeah,” where Minaj reminds an adversary that she’s “quick to check a … if she’s outta line,” before shouting out “Idol” producers.
The snappy flows continue on bouncy “I Endorse These Strippers” and the pithy kiss-off “The Boys,” which along with the equally brazen “I’m Legit” seem primed for the streets and clubs. Sure, she flirts with dance pop and R&B balladry, but you can forgive her for wanting to satisfy different tastes. Here, it actually works.
“Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded -- The Re-Up”
Three stars (out of four)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun