Behind the Beats: StreetRunner and Sarom
Roman is back, and on her new track, Nicki Minaj's alter ego gets into all types of musical mischief. "Roman in Moscow" starts with a maniacal build of piano strikes into a full-on frenzy of thudding drums, spacey synths and crashing symbols.
It's a track befitting the fictional Roman Zolanski, who was once exiled into boarding school, but has since escaped. Credit veteran beatmakers StreetRunner and Sarom for crafting the first peek at the Best New Artist Grammy nominee's upcoming Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded album.
It took a couple of tries, but after about eight different versions of track, the production duo, who exist in a larger crew of boards-men called the Network, finally came up with something that perfectly suited Nicki's mood.
"Once we heard from Nicki's camp that they were really interested in the track, we had to go back in on it and tailor make it a little more for her," said StreetRunner, who was nominated for a Grammy this week for his work on Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV. "It took a good eight tries to get it into pocket, but once we got it, we knew it."
The duo submitted the first version of the beat to Team Minaj in October, and by their estimation, it took about a month for them to tweak the instrumental and for Nicki to record her verses. The song was mixed earlier this week and released Friday (December 2) on iTunes.
Surprisingly, however, StreetRunner and Sarom didn't hear the final track until Friday's release. "Keeping music under wraps right now is very important if you want to avoid it getting leaked," said Street, who saw a number of tracks he thought he had placed on Weezy's Tha Carter III illegally released online, then ultimately left on the cutting-room floor.
Sarom also lost records that could've potentially made Wayne's 2008 gem, but for him, "Roman in Moscow" was well worth the wait. "Of course she's gonna go in on every single track, but she just came off on some other sh-- today," he told Mixtape Daily. "I can't even believe it."
The song definitely isn't a pop affair. Nicki as Roman leaves behind her cutesy "Super Bass" persona in exchange for something more sinister. She starts off her first verse, "I'm big Willie, no bike gear/ I told you bitches last year, I'm a rap bitch nightmare/ That's why I call you Buzz Lightyear/ 'Cause by the time you start buzzin' bitch, you gonna have white hair."
By the end of her two-verse lyrical triad, Nicki goes on a humorous rant. "Yeah ain't no motherf---in' prayers bitch, ain't no motherf---in' hook, ain't no motherf---in' third motherf---in' verse," her potty mouth spews. "Roman's back, bitch/ I f---ed up your life last year this time, remember that?"
Street, who started his career as a DJ, said, "That intro to the first few lines that she says, it's a shut-the-game-down record. Any DJ who's on radio and just wants to drop bombs, that intro is gonna happen, bomb."
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