Nicki Minaj released the first single from her sophomore album on Friday (December 2), and when MTV News caught up with the Young Money rapper at Billboard’s Women in Music event, she broke down the new track a bit. “Roman in Moscow” is like a teaser to Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which will drop on Valentine’s Day,” Minaj said. “When I say it’s a teaser, it’s like a trailer to the movie, it’s like setting the stage and I just wanted to touch the surface. It’s the wackest thing on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.”
On the track, one of Minaj’s most wayward alter egos Roman Zolanski is running amok in Moscow after escaping from boarding school. “Well, he was there [in Moscow] secretly because [alter ego] Martha wanted him to go there, so they put him in this thing with monks and nuns; they were trying to rehabilitate him,” Minaj explained. “But I can’t tell exactly what happened, you’ll just see it in the video format, but let’s just say he got out of there.” Minaj added that the video for “Roman in Moscow” “will be shot real soon.”
On Friday MTV News also spoke with the song’s producers, StreetRunner and Sarom, who explained how the track came together. 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.
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.”