Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint
Unless you've been living under an Earthbound meteor for the last year, you'll be well aware that Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda' conquered both hearts and charts all across the globe in 2014.
It's drawn from the New Yorker's third studio album – but its wacky blend of electropop and booty-dropping hip-hop doesn't necessarily represent the record's overall sound.
Minaj has previously spoken of her desire to move away from the dancier end of her catalogue and get back to her hip-hop roots: the fact that the album's title is a reference to her idol Jay Z's influential 'Blueprint' record is significant. In other words, you won't necessarily find radio-friendly fare like 'Starships' and 'Super Bass' here.
In fact, the tone is positively sombre for the first few songs, with the ultra-personal 'All Things Go' making reference to family conflict, her struggle with fame and alluding to an abortion that she had at 16. There's a healthy serving of heartbreak, bitterness and regret about a relationship turned sour sprinkled throughout, too.
Despite the downbeat nature of most of Minaj's lyrics, however, she's still capable of having a bit of fun. Beyoncé turns up on the enjoyable swagger of 'Feeling Myself'; 'Want Some More' exhibits both her bravado ("Who had Eminem on their first album? Who had Kanye saying 'She a problem?") her unsatiable ambition and her superb vocal flow, and Ariana Grande ably provides a huge chorus for the dancey 'Get On Your Knees'. It's just a pity that convicted woman-beater Chris Brown's appearance on 'Only' – which also features Drake and Lil Wayne - ruins what is otherwise a great song.
Minaj's decision to re-focus on hip-hop pays dividends and she continues to get better with every album. Overall, it's not perfect – but her next one might just be something very special indeed.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 18:54 | Thursday 18th December 2014 | Album Review