Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint is an album with an amoeba for a soul; thematically the lyrics sprawl at times over jumbled and confusing territory, while musical formality and texture among the songs generally remains confined to well-traveled and confined environs. The shape of the album changes over time as the songs progress, but in a seemingly unfocused manner. Despite the bumbles, there are some welcome surprises to be found here – particularly for those listeners who are seeking a shot of pro-girl adrenaline among their rap fare.
I admire and appreciate all efforts at female empowerment – every source of female empowerment is a good one so long as it speaks to an audience in an earnest way, and that’s not lacking here in the songs “Only” and “Feeling Myself”. “Only” contains some interesting explicit messages – i.e., qualities such as independence and “thickness” in women are lyrically praised as desirable – which are packaged in a rap song that pays homage to the typical “calling-out-the-fans/troops” subgenre. “Feeling Myself” is the more effective of the two, latching onto the sexual braggadoccio rap format, but containing the sexual conquests to that of the self through masturbation. Vocalizations and synths imitate vibrators, while the lyrics dance between the possible definitions of the phrase “feeling myself”. Literal masturbation is swapped (handily) with the idea of empowering the self or “filling my ego”, as Minaj states. Self-empowerment can often feel like an overindulgence or masturbatory effort, and the concepts marry neatly.
The general rhythm of the songs on this album is slow – a sleepy drip-drop slow jam that wakes up briefly at odd moments, such as with house-raiser “The Night is Still Young”, or the island perkiness of “Trini Dem Girls”. It’s surprising that the rhythmic pacing of the majority of the songs plods between drowsy jams (“Favorite”, “All Things Go”) and lullaby lilts (“Bed of Lies”, “Grand Piano”), especially when you consider some of the topics she approaches. A great deal of the album is about surviving bad relationships (“Pills N Potions”, “Buy a Heart”, etc.), and the anxiety of forming new relationships (“The Crying Game”), with “I Lied” coming across as a potential anthem for the NEET generation.
While largely an uneven album, there are definitely a few things to salvage from it. “Want Some More”, a sort of verbal attack/self defense deflection subgenre that can be found among rap, has a catchy snap to it reminiscent of popping gum, and “Feeling Myself” is one of the strongest, and most empowering pieces on the album. As it flies now, however, The Pinkprint is a bit of a hippogriff, and the horse end is dragging.