Nicki Minaj, Roman Reloaded
The days of the well-behaved pop star are over
First came Taylor Swift’s bashful on-air recitation of “Super Bass.” Then, there was the snapshot of her in a front-row Fashion Week seat next to Anna Wintour. Both items told the same story: In the wake of her debut full-length Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj had become a verifiable crossover sensation. That didn’t come without a bit of prudent self-editing: On mixtapes and in guest spots, she was prone to launching into manic conversations with her alter egos, the back-and-forth insanity often escalating into literal screaming matches with herself. She dialed much of that back on Pink Friday, a prim and proper hybrid of pop and rap, but on Roman Reloaded, Minaj turns her id loose again, squealing with childlike glee and chattering through a string of manic snap raps. In “Pound the Alarm,” her steely, commanding verse sets off an avalanche of what sounds like every LMFAO breakdown, ever. And for just a few seconds of “Come on a Cone,” she pauses from rattling on a dizzying list of career highs to warble, “Put my dick in your face.” Minaj leaps from devil-may-care smack talk (the careening “HOV Lane,” the yelping “Stupid Hoe”) to Europop hooks she could have pawned to Rihanna, if she wasn’t using them herself (“Automatic,” “Beautiful Sinner”). The days of Minaj the well-behaved pop star are over. On Roman Reloaded, she’s playing fast and loose.