Nicki Minaj has heard everything you've ever had to say about her. Everything you've ever had to say about her music, her love life, her outfits, and her controversies -- on Monday (Dec. 15), she responded to it all by releasing her best album to date.
The Pinkprint's strength is in its vulnerability and it opens with no armor, as Nicki stands stripped and unguarded on "All Things Go."
Sparse and ghostly synths set the tone for Minaj's raw emotions. "I had to reinvent, I put the 'V' in vent/ I put the heat in vents, man I been competing since/ I look beyond what people sayin' and I see intent," she raps at a slow and measured pace.
During this five-minute ride we learn the most about Onika Maraj. We learn about Nicki's failed marriage proposal, a child that she lost and her future hopes for motherhood. Then there are her feelings around the 2011 murder of her younger cousin Nicholas Telemaque, and the guilt she feels while trying to hold her family together.
After "All Things Go," the floodgates of emotion open and spill over the majority of the album's 16 tracks. On "I Lied" Nicki isn't as strong as she often appears. "Even though I said I didn't need you I lied, to keep you from breaking my heart," she sings with her strongest vocal performance yet.
With "Bed of Lies" she confronts a dishonest lover, presumably her ex-boyfriend Safaree "SB" Samuels, who she recently broke-up with. Then, on "The Crying Game," Nicki gets even more transparent, admitting that she's "abusive by nature" after rapping about "slaps to the face" and "uppercuts." Then there's the previously released and highly-medictaed "Pills N Potions" and the album-closer and operatic "Grand Piano."
It's all tragic, but The Pinkprint isn't all love-sick melodies and tear-soaked pillows; there's triumph as well. Nicki links up with Meek Mill on "Buy A Heart" and together they contemplate a new love. Minaj really sells the concept when she calls the MMG rapper out by his real name. "Rahmeek I'ma have to tell the truth if I speak/ Unless you wanna play, you ain't say this the other day/ You said you was in love and I still didn't budge," she flows with lyrics that are sure to raise an eyebrow or two.
Then there's the pure rap moments. "Want Some More" has a southern-baked trap bounce, and on "Four Door Aventador" Nicki channels the late Notorious B.I.G. and makes references that only New Yorkers would get. "Meet me at the Rucker, take the Brukner/ It's just me and young Yucka, takin' suckas," she rhymes with a husky voice.
Nicki even touches on her West Indian roots with the dancehall-laced "Trini Dem Girls," providing listeners with a difficult balance that celebrates her range as an artist.
Overall, there's a real comfort on The Pinkprint, as Nicki completely lets go to be herself. For once it isn't about how you feel about Nicki Minaj, but rather how Nicki Minaj feels about Nicki Minaj. And despite all the pain and heartbreak, we're guessing she feels pretty great about where she is musically.