Nicki Minaj Pink Friday

Nicki Minaj Pink Friday
On one level, it's hard not to root for Nicki Minaj. Much has been said about the lack of female MCs in hip-hop (blah, blah, blah, ad lib to fade), but it's curious to see how the Young Money queen's presence will shake up a moribund mainstream hip-hop scene with Pink Friday. Nicki says as much with modestly titled lead track "I'm The Best" ("I'm fighting for the girls who never thought they could win"). Despite her penchant for multiple aliases (see: "Roman's Revenge") and her oft-times grating cadence (RAT-tat-tat-tat/rat-tat-tat-TAT!), the passion, grind and delivery can't be dismissed. The egregious ethering of Lil' Kim on "Roman's Revenge" serves notice that she's currently the queen bee of the moment. "Blazin'" (featuring Kanye West) is hot, "Do It On'em" is disturbing and "Check it Out (featuring will.i.am) isn't as bad as people say. But even Minaj isn't immune to the realities of the current hip-hop landscape (or nervous record execs, for that matter), as demonstrated by the presence of overly poppy stuff (see: "Your Love," "Right Thru Me," "Fly" and "Save Me"). Pink Friday is either a damning indictment on the state of hip-hop or a case study of its evolution. Either way, it's unlikely that Nicki Minaj's overdue debut will please everyone. (Universal)