Not since Jennifer Hudson had a stint on American Idol, starred in "Dreamgirls", & won an Oscar--all before her first album was released--has it been so strange to say, but Pink Friday is indeed the debut album from the, as Billboard has deemed her, "First Lady of Hip-Hop," Nicki Minaj. After gaining quite an impressive following through just mixtapes & features, & creating such an intriguing persona (or a few...), whether she liked it or not, there were very high expectations for Pink Friday. Personally, I was rooting for Nicki, as I still do, going into the album, but not even I could deny the inherent problem it presented.
1. "I'm The Best": Nicki was smart to kick the album off with this, as I know I'm not in the minority of people who bought the album that feel this way. It has the attitude that we're used to in addition to, as it would become apparent, the sound we've come to love. 5/5
2. "Roman's Revenge" (ft. Eminem): The beat is sick & I LOVE Nicki's parts on this track! It would probably be my favorite song on the album if it weren't for Em. 4.5/5
3. "Did It On'em": This, then, would probably be my favorite song on the album. Again, the attitude & just straight-up swagger she displays here is simply why I love her so much. 5/5
4. "Right Thru Me": *Sigh* This is where things go a little awry. I've always felt like this was an attempt to recreate "Your Love" & it just doesn't do it for me. "Your Love" was a grower for me, but I've given this one time & it still hasn't given me anything aside from the verses. 3.5/5
5. "Fly" (ft. Rihanna): Gaw, I was so excited for this after the sizzling "Raining Men" was the main highlight of RiRi's Loud, but this song is boooring! Not horrible though... just boring. 3.5/5
6. "Save Me": Of the plentiful ballads on the album, this one is the best. I like it in isolation & would enjoy it more were it not surrounded by (borderline) crap. 4.5/5
7. "Moment 4 Life" (ft. Drake): Almost all of the energy has been sucked out of the album at this point, but don't let that stop you from getting into Nicki's first verse. I have a love/hate relationship with Drake's verse, but as for the chorus, Nicki, honey, you are not a singer! 4/5
8. "Check It Out" (ft. will.i.am): An uptempo is so desperately needed at this point that this craptacular BEP leftover will have to do. Really though, this one has grown on me, mainly because Nicki is flawless on it. 4/5
9. "Blazin'" (ft. Kanye West): This one wouldn't seem as bad as it does if she hadn't already worn this tempo out completely because her rapping & even her singing are solid here. With only one verse on both this & "Moment 4 Life" though, it feels a little lazy... Is this her album or just more features?! 4/5
10. "Here I Am": Ugh. This is such album filler. 3.5/5
11. "Dear Old Nicki": Nick, this does us no good. Why don't you stop singing about 'Old Nicki' & really try channelling her? 3.5/5
12. "Your Love": Finally, a slow jam that doesn't put me to sleep. Ignoring the fact that it seems stale at this point, there's something special about this song (that cannot be recreated..!) that's... catchy without being annoying, which, believe you me, is hard to do! 4.5/5
13. "Last Chance" (ft. Natasha Bedingfield): An odd pairing, no? Not a bad one though... but the track is forgettable, especially after exhausting myself for almost an entire album trying to care. 3.5/5
Honestly, with everything that follows the first three tracks, I thought I was being Punk'd. I actually think that by waiting to release the album until November to avoid it being rushed, Nicki probably spent too much time stressing out about it & trying to record something that would fill the void that "Your Love" did, & it resulted in a complete loss of the spontaneity that is obviously present in her previous work (see: the reason she has a fanbase in the first place). It's funny because there's so much more life in the bonus tracks "Super Bass", "Muny", & "Blow Your Mind", which is probably my favorite song on the entire deluxe edition CD. The two Best Buy-exclusives "Wave Ya Hand" & "Catch Me" are also better than the majority of the album. Had they switched places with some of the slower tracks & she gone more in that direction with Pink Friday, I would've enjoyed it a lot more. All that said, I don't hate Pink Friday. The good tracks have me grading the album a bit on a curve, not to mention that slow or fast, Nicki is Nicki & she's a great rapper; I've never been more into one myself.
Rating: 4/5 Stars