Despite being named after her troubled and flamboyant alter-ego Roman Zolanski, Minaj's sophomore album doesn't conceptually rely too much on her inner man -- only a handful of tracks are belted out in character. The 29-year-old MC does return to her early rap roots singing more explicitly and along with more experienced players -- Nas, Beenie Man, Young Jeezy and Cam'ron -- and the usual cast -- Drake, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. Truth be told, Roman Reloaded doesn't have the same continuous start-to-finish play objective as its predecessor -- diss tracks get repetitive and one-too-many "let's get wasted at the club" bangers make fingers wander toward the skip button -- but the album does have something for everyone.
The BoomBox listened to Nicki Minaj's album non-stop for two days straight. Here we provide a track-by-track breakdown of her genre-bending and fun sophomore album.
Minaj premiered this schizo-track -- the Young Money MC flip-flops between her alter egos Roman Zolanski and his mother Martha Zolanski -- at the 2012 Grammy Awards with an over-the-top performance that included a mock exorcism. The haywire intro sets the tone for the confrontational first half of the album. We're in Minaj's world now.
Standout Lyric: "Cuz y'all know who da f---, what da f---/ I do, I done put the pressure to every thug I knew."
2. "Come On a Cone"
Unlike the more candy-coated "I'm the Best" off her first LP, Pink Friday, Minaj sings her own praises by pointing out what other "bitches" lack, instead of what makes her so great. She even takes a cheap punch at a fellow rapper: "7up went and gave my commercial to Cee-Lo." Many critics have deemed this album a return to Minaj's early mixtapes, and, yes, her pre-fame brashness shows up here like it did on Sucka Free's "Set It Off" and Beam Me Up, Scotty's "I Get Crazy."
Standout Lyric: "When I'm sitting with Anna [Wintour, Vogue magazine editor-in-chief]/ I'm really sitting with Anna/ Ain't a metaphor, punchline/ I'm really sittin with Anna."
3. "I Am Your Leader" Feat. Cam'ron & Rick Ross
Minaj turns to profanity to convince she's a boss, telling her non-believers to "suck a big dick." With her wordplay lacking in any real creativity Dipset's Cam'ron and Maybach Music Group head honcho Rick Ross overshadow the Harajuku Barbie with their verses on this track. Hit-Boy delivers with a percolating beat that's not as menacing as Watch the Throne's "N----s in Paris," but still ear candy.
Standout Lyric: "See the car is European but got imported from Tokyo/ Looking like a shark, the nose call it Pinocchio/ Well off, well f, LV, logo," -- Cam'ron.
4. "Beez in the Trap" feat. 2 Chainz
Producer Kenoe's sparse production and storm-drain synths recall last year's hip-hop favorite "Look at Me Now." Minaj continues the digs here with the hook "Bitches ain't s--- ..." but with Mr. Trap-A-Velli himself showing up here, the song becomes more of a catchy nod to the dirty south's trap music, than Minaj's tiresome feud with hip-hop's original Queen Bee, Lil' Kim.
Standout Lyric: "I don't smoke no bobby, but my denim be from Ricky," 2 Chainz.
5. "Hov Lane"
Expect #imintheHOVlane to show up as a meme come April 3. To prove she drives in her own lane, Minaj takes a break from the guest feature and pairs her articulate, machine gun-delivery with a shooting laser beat. But don't look too deep into the lyrics. "I'm in the Hov lane/ And you n----, you you you you Soul Train." Sounds like another diss at Lil' Kim. And if it is, it's getting old.
Standout Lyric: "I don't shotgun, I be driving my own car/ I don't do shots neither/ I'm buying the whole bar."
6. "Roman Reloaded" feat. Lil Wayne
Minaj and her Young Money honcho get trigger happy on this Rico Beats-produced track. Bees swarm and sirens go off in the background as Minaj demands a bigger payday for her acting roles -- so far, only an "Ice Age" voiceover is on her resume -- and Weezy jokes about a Nicki Menage à trois. Lil Wayne's got nothing but banging on his mind.
Standout Lyric: "I guess I went commercial/ Just shot a commercial/ When I flew to the set though/ I ain't fly commercial."
7. "Champion" feat. Nas, Drake & Young Jeezy
Have Nas, Drake and Young Jeezy ever appeared on a track together? Nope. Minaj puts together an unprecedented backup team on this victory lap. Nasty Nas delivers extra street cred to the song's made-it-from-the-ghetto celebration. Toronto-based producer T-Minus returns -- he also produced Minaj's Drake feature "Moment 4 Life" -- with his trademark laid-back beats and distorted organ synths that paint a skyline soundscape.
Standout Lyric: "My 24th bday, I'm sailin' to Bimini/ You can see me on a yacht blastin Pac, little nah, I ain't greedy," Nas.
8. "Right By My Side" feat. Chris Brown
This Breezy feature serves as a turning point for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded with the music and content becoming more pop-driven and sunny. One of the album's more radio-friendly singles, Minaj drops her rap style in favor of some good old-fashioned romantic crooning: "I-I, I'm not living life/ I'm not living right/ I'm not living if you're not by my side."
Standout Lyric: "You own my heart, he just renting."
9. "Sex in the Lounge" feat. Lil Wayne & Bobby V
Instead of taking it up an octave, like she did it on the previous track, the Harajuku Barbie goes back to spitting her verses and enlists Bobby V to sing dirty. Lil Tunechi also reemerges to give this sultry R&B track a vivid XXX-rating.
Standout Lyric: "Sit that p---- on my bottom lip/ Then after that you know we gotta switch," Lil Wayne.
"Starships" picks up where the previous Pink Friday LP's sugar-coated "Super Bass" left off. Already a platinum-selling single, the track sonically channels Minaj's vibrant, interstellar visual style. The first of five consecutive RedOne-produced tracks, "Starships" transforms the middle part of the album into a rave thanks to the Moroccan producer's eurodance roots.
Standout Lyric: "Jump in my hoopty hoopty hoop, I own that/ And I ain't paying my rent this month, I owe that."
11. "Pound the Alarm"
Minaj's starship lands in Ibiza on this anthem, but could play at any nightclub around the world. Mama Barbz finds international crossover singing the necessary ingredients for a one-night stand, which begins with partying at a club: "Bottle, sip, bottle, guzzle" and "fill my glass up a little more, we 'bout to get up, and burn this floor." By the time the "pound the alarm" chorus rolls around, it's hard not to be drunk and sweaty off the fun.
Standout Lyric: "Come get me, baby we're not getting younger/ I just want you tonight, night/ Baby we won't do it for life."
12. "Whip It"
The most EDM-focused song by Minaj to date. Lyrics come whipping out of the wig-wearing MC's mouth at Busta Rhymes-speed on this Carribbean-tinged banger. The "na na nas" on the chorus sound like they could be sung by Rihanna. The islands of Barbados and Trinidad are only some 226 miles apart. Minaj catches her breath on this high-adrenaline anthem with a small rap verse sandwiched between the techno where she boasts about her high SAT score.
Standout Lyric: "Is that my cue? I'm looking for some brain to boost my IQ/ I'm like 5'2", my SAT scores was high too/ But I don't mean to brag, I Louis Vuitton bag 'em/ Hopped out the jag proceeded to sha-shag em."
Another feel-good party anthem, "Automatic" is the catchiest of the RedOne-produced tracks. Again, Minaj robotically sings about the body's uncontrollable tendency to move on the dancefloor, over a soaring production. When the beat drops towards the end, it's Minaj's cue to spit 16 bars.
Standout Lyric: "I can't control the way I'm moving hips/ Bet you never ever seen it like this/ I'm a monster on the floor I can't quit."
14. "Beautiful Sinner"
Minaj teams up with her "Super Bass" co-writer Ester Dean on this final club banger, which is co-produced by Alex da Kid and RedOne. Darker than the other bangers, Minaj stretches her voice on the refrain, showing off her powerful vocal chords as she sings about a cheating lover.
Standout Lyric: "I didn't know that bad could love so good/ You are the type of bad that feels so good."
15. "Marilyn Monroe"
Minaj finds refuge from fame in old Hollywood, comparing her life to that of Marilyn Monroe. This piano ballad brings the dance party on the previous five tracks to an end, and is a complete 180-degree turn from the in-your-face attitude of the opening tracks. Minaj sings about insecurities and how she'll "never be perfect." She subsequently takes us back to the old Minaj that connected to fans on soft pop ballads like "Save Me" and "Right Thru Me."
Standout Lyric: "Call me cursed/ Or call me blessed/ If you can't handle my worst/ You ain't getting my best."
16. "Young Forever"
A sweet ballad about a crush, the sugary beat comes via the Godfather of Pop Production, Dr. Luke. On the track, Minaj puts the pink in Pink Friday, fantasizing with lines like, "I'd used to think that we'd reunite/ I'd be your wife, in the real life." This heart-shaped song is the perfect jam for Valentine's Day -- the original proposed release date for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
Standout Lyric: "Frozen in time, always be mine/ Baby boy you'll be young forever."
17. "Fire Burns"
Minaj definitely has love on her mind on the latter part of this album, however, the love story doesn't end well. You can't help feeling bad for Minaj's strikeouts in the game of love. "This is a sickening joke that you play with my emotions/ And so I pray you burn in hell and you never find the ocean," she laments on this slower electropop jam. At least she gets things off her chest.
Standout Lyric: "I hope you lay down in your sleep and you choke on every lie you told/ And when you're reaching out for me you'll see you reap everything you sow."
18. "Gun Shot" feat. Beenie Man
Minaj manages to make gun shots sound uplifting on her collabo with dancehall legend Beenie Man, who has relatively stayed away from pop albums. The duet works with Minaj complimenting the "Bossman" singer's Jamaican accent with her own Trinidadian roots. The duo shine over dreamy synths.
Standout Lyric: "My gun go shot, give dem all blood clot."
19. "Stupid H--"
Minaj finishes things off with her staccato-y diss track, nailing everyone from Lil' Kim to actress Jennifer Aniston. The alterego the album is named for reappears after a long absence. With Minaj's discography filling up with several uppercuts at her haters, "Stupid H---" comes off as a cheap punch due to its grade school name calling, but then again this is the bad bitch the world fell in love with from the start.
Standout Lyric: "I'm Angelina, you Jennifer/ Come on bitch, you see where Brad at."