Nicki Minaj The Pinkprint

Nicki MinajThe Pinkprint
Nicki Minaj has found a balance. Her juggle of pop obligations and rap expectations have finally landed in an assured middle ground this year, leaving a strengthened artist left standing. The Pinkprint is the third studio album from Nicki, and delivers some of the slick-tongued spitter's best work as 19 strong, multidimensional tracks tip-toe away from the pop planet of "Starships," ushering the rapper closer to her originally raw hip-hop roots. With hype from previously dropped singles "Pills n Potions," "Anaconda," "Only" and "Bed of Lies," as well as a feature list welcoming Beyonce, Ariana Grande and Meek Mill to the pink party, expectation were high, but Nicki has delivered.

"All Things Go" starts off the personal journey like a model sans photoshop. For fans that have ridden with the YMCMB queen from the beginning, the cut — along with many others throughout the project — is reminiscent of 2008 "Autobiography" Nicki, the one who tells honest stories and isn't afraid to get completely vulnerable as she tells truths of her insecurities, family problems and triggers a painful past. "I Lied" is a radio-friendly dream and the solo pop vocals show immense growth for the vocalist — well beyond the technically advanced mainstream radio hooks Nicki has delivered. "Feeling Myself" is a ripe blend of Texas, New York and California influence combined on a hype Hit-Boy track, featuring two of the most powerful females in the game. "I am a rap legend, go ask the kings of rap," Nikki spits. As a "Flawless" followup, Beyoncé and Nicki are two for two with the fun and feminine collaborations.

Nicki is more personal, more timeless and more connected to her own artistry here, serving some of the most superlative work of her established career on The Pinkprint, as the rap queen uncovers the most vulnerable side to her yet: Onika Miraj. (Cash Money/Republic Records)