Prior to Nicki Minaj’s third studio album you have to ask yourself have we actually gotten to know the real Nicki Minaj? The answer is no. We’ve met all her alter egos and danced along to her infectious bubblegum rap tracks but it’s time to get serious. “The Pinkprint” is a serious affair and she opens up like never before, making this an album for true fans of rap. Sure “Anaconda” serves a Cartoon styled EDM track while “Pills And Potions” strips it back as an emotionally fueled pop track but don’t expect a whole album of these tracks. Opening with the autobiographical “All Things Go” she raps about her strained relationship with her family and the murder of her cousin Nicholas Telemaque as well as an abortion she had during her teenage years. This powerful track dominates with strong bass and synths and straight away you already know this album is going to be different. “I Lied” and “The Crying Game” follows the same structure and delves into insecurities, regret and failed relationships creating two of the albums strongest tracks. Continuing to show her vulnerability in “Bed Of Lies” (Feat. Skyler Grey” she slams a scummy ex but it’s the beautiful ballad “Grand Piano” penned by Esther Dean that has got the world talking. This is the only song on the album that Minaj doesn’t rap on and showcases her vocal range with an intricate ballad about “feeling stupid” and “played” by an ex.
It wouldn’t completely be a Nicki Minaj album without sexually explicit songs that break the mold with their intense and forward lyrics and I’m happy to report there are a couple of them. “Get On Your Knees” (Feat. Ariana Grande) is a jam that grows on you with a powerful hook penned by Katy Perry that will get stuck in your head immediately. From oral sex to masturbation “Feeling Myself” (Feat. Beyoncé) is a sexually embracive song that sees the queen joining Minaj for an unforgettable sequel to their “Flawless” collaboration which gets nod on the last verse. Opening with the line “Yo, I never fucked Wayne, I never fucked Drake. On my life, man, fuck’s sake” on “Only” she tackles rumors she’s been facing her whole career. This is the dirtiest, most honest and brutal we have heard her be. She vibes hard in “Want Some More”, “Four Door Aventador” “Trini Dem Girls” and “Buy A Heart” (Feat. Meek Mill) returning to her roots with slick RNB beats that will have you throwing your hands in the air. These tracks have simple hooks that are powerful in their own way but stay loyal to the sound she wants to portray. That’s where her previous albums lost focus as the record company were putting pressure on her to release bubblegum pop and influenced tracks. Giving her full creative reign on “The Pinkprint” was a brilliant move, yes it may not be the commercial success they hoped for but its honest, brutal and true to the art she wants to release. “The Night Is Still Young” is the only song that is similar to her previous material with playful verses about getting drunk and having a good night out backed up with a strong pop chorus. This will no doubt become a single in the near future and it will kill it at radio and make the pop fans happy again because this album is really not for them.
With 16 tracks on the standard edition alone “The Pinkprint is fairly lengthy and if you’re not a fan of traditional RNB this will not be an enjoyable experience for you. But if you appreciate smart rhymes, honest lyrics, slick beats and well-crafted tracks then “The Pinkprint” will leave you impressed. “Favourite” (Feat. Jeremih) is my least favourite track on the album and a couple of songs sound fairly repetitive when you listen to it in its entirety. This is Nicki Minaj’s strongest and best album to date and I finally feel like we have gotten to know the real Onika Maraj behind the craziness she portrays.