Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review: Nicki Minaj's "The Pinkprint"

There's so much good music in the world, and it brings on so many good feelings. I love reggae music, I love soca music, I love old school R&B and hip hop, I love trap music, and I can get down to pretty much anything else with a nice composition. Pop. Rock. I love music. Period.

What I love most of all is when you hear brand new music, and it hits you. Either it passes right through you briefly, or maybe you hear it but it doesn't affect you, or you immediately forget it...and sometimes you listen to it, like it and can't explain why. Sometimes the sounds completely translate into a feeling that is directly speaking to you. A vibe that perfectly resonates with you. A composition that you must hear again, and again. A noise that makes you physically feel fabulous. Well, on some level that's how I feel about Nicki Minaj's latest album The Pinkprint, that was just released earlier this month.

I wouldn't call myself a "super fan" of Nicki Minaj, but I must say that I like most of her songs to date...and her craziness really doesn't bother me. I like her, as an artist. I shouldn't...but I do. I agree that the Anaconda antics were kinda over the top, but I think it was fun and harmless. The bootie phase of 2014 will pass, and everyone would have had their moment to shake dat ass. Including Nicki.

And I think that's why I dig this album...because even with Nicki's querkiness, and odd behaviours publically, I feel she's maturing into more of a woman and less of a caricature. She used to feel like a cartoon character to me...catchy beats and a bright, colourful, and ridiculous fashion sense. She couldn't be taken that seriously...but now I think her music speaks for itself. She's growing up.

I like her music of the past because it was feel-good pop music. Trendy beats and memorable catch phases. I liked most of the hits that were hits, and it wasn't anything too serious.

But with this album, I feel a different sense of appreciation for Nicky Minaj as an artist. I can hear her growth as an individual. I can hear the maturity in her style. The increase in vulnerability in her voice. The intimacy of the lyrics. This album is different.

It starts off sounding almost like an R&B album, with Nicki singing, and with the instrumentation sounding more symphonic, and less street. The lyrics alone make it feel more personal, like she's speaking straight from a broken heart. It's a different level of emotional disclosure...and the music mimics that. It starts off more introspective...mellow beats. The album begins in a dark, sad place...and sets the tone for what's to come.

The Pinkprint gets lighter as it progresses, less vulnerable and more club. The lyrics are less painful...Drake and Chris Brown show up. Ariana Grande. Beyonce. Works it way down to Anaconda, and then closes with the Pills and Potions, signature Nicki sounding track...singing her vocals, the regular Nicki flow.

Overall, I like the way this album makes me feel. Even at a glance, there's an arch to the music that follows a nice audio story line. From darkness and heartbreak, that slowly and gradually eases into triumph by the end. There's hope at the end...and the mood of the album supports that.

I look forward to playing this album for the next couple of weeks, listening carefully to the individual songs, taking in the lyrics, and appreciating how this project was put together. Right now I am really feeling "The Crying Game" and "Grand Piano." I hear that she has released a mini-movie to go along with a few of the tracks, and the essence of these songs in particular remind me of soundtrack-type songs. Full of emotion.

I don't "purchase" CDs often, but this is one I actually got up and went into the mall to buy. Like physically made a trip to the store to make sure I had this in my possession for Monday morning, and the subsequent sitting in traffic I was about to embark in for the week. This will be my entertainment, and my inspiration. Music is amazing that never fails to bring out the creative energy in me!

After watching Nicki's Power 105.1 interview with Angie Martinez the other day, I got a different energy off of her and her story, and her behaviour as she discussed the end of her 15-year relationship with Safaree. There was a vibe she gave off in the interview that directly translated into the vibe of the album. It was a vibe of Nicki the woman, telling her story of adult heartbreak. A story of strength, but still with enough spunk to make it unpredictable.

This album sounds great, and it is a fabulous representation of Nicki's career, and even her public growth. It's nice to see an artist getting better with time and with wisdom...I'm pleasantly surprised that Nicki Minaj actually became one of those artists. I have to respect that.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's Urban Toronto Tales blog.

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