Nicki Minaj has released her newest album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, a revival of her Roman Zolanski alter ego created for her 2010 album, Pink Friday. The description alone incites the image that Nicki has been propagating: she's quite a far stride from your ordinary singer/songwriter. But with predecessors like Lady Gaga, Nicki has been critiqued as coming off as somewhat of a rehash.
Minaj is sort of a "love her or hate her" type of music artist. She calls for reactions by being an extreme performer her occult, macabre presentation at the 2012 Grammys comes to mind. But Minaj isn't the first performer to make a career off being "weird." In fact, she's often compared Gaga, another contemporary musician whose very existence is a celebration of oddity and uniqueness.
Being compared to Lady Gaga is sort of a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Gaga is unbelievably popular, remarkably talented, and an exemplary of the message of loving yourself. Being associated with these things is a big win for Minaj. But with that comes the hard truth that she might always live in Lady Gaga's shadow.
Her new album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, is at best a wavering example of Minaj's ability to stand alone as a performer. Her good songs are good the opening "Roman Holiday" stands out as terrifically creative and unique. Unfortunately, Minaj's album is packed with more forgettable, run-of-the-mill hip hop pieces. This practice is what stands in the way of her getting out of Lady Gaga's shadow.
Why Nicki Minaj opts for "the norm" songs like "I Am Your Leader," "Beez in a Trap" and "HOV Lane" are just ordinary when her bizarre compositions and performances are so much more invigorating and defining is a mystery. Maybe Minaj has been preparing for the inevitable comparison to Lady Gaga by keeping a few of these standards on her resume? That way, no matter what the results of her audience's "Gaga v. Minaj" debate, she'll still find success in step with the hip-hop genre.
But Minaj is better off going for broke. Her lyrics and harmonies in songs like "Roman Holiday" are strong enough to keep her in contention with Lady Gaga, or any contemporary artist for that matter. While she might never quite reach Gaga's demigod stature, with stronger pieces like this one and a consistent dedication to her unusual methods and styles of performance art, Minaj will persist as someone on the public's mind as a creative icon.
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