Review: Nicki Minaj Shows Her Best (And Worst) Sides On ‘The Pinkprint’

By now, it’s become industry lore how HOT 97’s Paul Rosenberg shaded 2012 Summer Jam headliner Nicki Minaj and her meteoric hit “Starships.” “I know there are some chicks here waiting to sing ‘Starships’ later — I’m not talking to y’all right now,” he told the crowd. “I’m here to talk about real hip-hop.” Young Money boss Lil Wayne pulled the marquee performer hours later.

Fast forward two years and the lone female who beasted on Kanye West’s “Monster” is playing for keeps on The Pinkprint. Her third studio effort—which salutes the title of Jay Z’s Blueprint—is a classic case of a female talking real shit. The Queens gal born Onika Maraj shows thick skin, baring all in bars without regard for opinion. Off top, she raps from the heart on the self-reflective “All Things Go,” followed by girl-you-betta-sang vocals on the Enya-esque but fully emo ballads “I Lied” and later on, “Grand Piano.” Drake would be proud.

Dig a little deeper and there’s cracks in Nicki’s sweet life. She cops to popping pills in her mansion after dealing with personal family losses (her little cousin, her would-be child with Aaron) and the end of her 10-year relationship with Safaree. After the struggles subside, her boss-bitch status take center stage. The leader of the Pretty Gang cruises on “Four Door Aventador,” the Meek Mill-assisted “Big Daddy” and the Chi-town-approved “Shanghai.” She gives females reason to brush their shoulders off with “Feeling Myself,” featuring Beyoncé. Those on the hunt for bae can bump “Buy a Heart,” also featuring Meek and a sample of Alicia Keys’ “Untouchable,” while Millennials on their grizzly will blast “Win Again.”

Once costumed in blonde wigs, neon-bright and geometric-shaped getups, Nicki’s gimmick has evolved into a deeper sense of self, one that wears minimal make-up, sleek Alexander McQueen ensembles and natural, black hair. Like her stylist told Cosmopolitan at the height of her aesthetic switch-up, “I usually bring things that are a little more stylized because I feel like that’s who she is, but, surprising even to me, she’s been leaning toward even more natural. She wants to do less. Just less, less.”

A quick scroll through her résumé shows less actually means more and more. Nicki isn’t shy about shouting out herself these days either. On “Want Some More,” she outlines some of her biggest achievements to date: “Who had Eminem on the first album?/ Who had Kanye saying “She a problem”?/ Who the fuck came in the game made her own cologne?/ Who made Lil Wayne give ‘em five million?,” before nudging Forbes, “You seen that list? It was me, Baby, Jay Z and Diddy.” Our lives may be shorter than Vine vids but Nicki’s time means money. Whether setting off thirst traps on Instagram or hosting the MTV Europe Music Awards, every move has to be her best move. Consider The Pinkprint a win.—Adelle Platon (@adelleplaton)