After years of anticipation, Nicki Minaj has finally released her long-awaited album “Pink Friday 2” on Friday, coinciding with her 41st birthday. Coming 13 years after her smash hit debut “Pink Friday,” the sequel album delivers on the rapper’s signature style with surprise features, expensive samples, and lyrics centered around her rise to fame.
Opening Statements Set High Expectations
Kicking off the album, Minaj sets the tone on the intro track “It’s Barbie, B*tch,” proclaiming:
“Y’all ain’t ready for this new wave. I’m still that bitch, now bow down to the motherf*ckin’ queen.”
She triumphantly announces her return while asserting her status as a veteran superstar in the rap game. Critics have called this a strong opening, demonstrating her confidence to meet high expectations for this long-delayed project.
The follow-up track, “Gag City,” serves as the lead single. Anchored by a throbbing bassline and synthetic horns, Minaj spits bars alluding to the anticipation around the project:
“Took a minute for the queen to get this sh*t right. Been plotting my return since I left the game.”
The song’s title references an AI-generated futuristic cityscape envisioned by fans in the lead-up to the album drop.
Collaborations With Drake, Lil Wayne, and J. Cole
True to her reputation for surprise features, Minaj delivers unexpected collaborations with several heavyweight rappers.
On the track “Moment 8,” Drake joins Minaj to exchange verses over a flip of Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Their chemistry hearkens back to earlier smash collabs like “Moment 4 Life” and “Only.”
Frequent Young Money collab Lil Wayne turns up on “Pink Dynasty” as Minaj reflects on her reign in the rap game:
“Ten years running and still no contenders. Young Money royalty, it’s just me and Wayne.”
But the most unexpected collab comes on “Queen’s Court” as J. Cole guest raps alongside Minaj:
“Two leaders running the rap game, wondering who gon’ take the throne.”
Cole and Minaj exchange verses comparing their lyricism and reflecting on their hip hop dominance. Music critics have called the link-up a monumental meeting of two rap juggernauts at the top of their game.
Provocative Lyrics & Expensive Samples
Across the album’s 16 tracks, Nicki Minaj returns to her trademark provocative one-liners and punchlines:
“Bad bitch bustin’ out the cage. Body lookin’ like I’m eighteen.”
And expensive samples help add to the luxurious aesthetic. The track “Maserati Dreams” flips the opera vocals on Jay-Z’s “Lucifer” to a house beat as Minaj affectionately addresses her fans, the Barbz:
“Barbz the reason that I went so hard for over ten years (…) Ya’ll my family.”
|“Lucifer” by Jay-Z
|“Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams” by Robin Thicke
“Pink Panther” samples Robin Thicke’s “Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams” as Minaj paints a lavish scene from her current lifestyle:
“Pink fur coat, diamonds is my best friend. Seven credit cards ain’t enough to pay for them.”
Reviewers Critique Lyrics But Praise Nostalgic Throwbacks
Early reviewers have offered mixed opinions on the album so far. While some find the lyrics lacking substance beyond luxury rap cliches, most agree Minaj delivers strong throwback moments to her early mixtape sound.
The track “Now or Never” in particular channels the hunger of Minaj’s early career over a mixed beat blending “Exhibit C” by Jay Electronica and “Warning” by The Notorious B.I.G.:
“This for every female rapper still in the trenches. Remember where you came from, don’t forget it.”
Critics called this track a highlight and praised Minaj’s inspirational message to women in hip hop.
Combined with collab moments alongside Drake and Lil Wayne, reviewers found these nostalgic throwbacks made the album an enjoyable – if not groundbreaking – listen for longtime fans.
Surprise Drop Coincides With Minaj’s 41st Birthday
Beyond the lyrics and features, the album’s timing itself serves as a milestone event. By surprise releasing on December 8th, Minaj strategically coincided the drop with her 41st birthday.
This mirrors her splashy entrance to the rap scene in 2010 when she originally dropped “Pink Friday” on her debut week hitting #2 on the Billboard charts. Fans have praised her ability to once again dominate the conversation by pairing the drop with a major personal event.
And after years of false starts and rumored release dates, the sudden album drop helps recapture the exhilaration of her initial breakthrough. Reviewers called the surprise element a “return to form” for the veteran rapper.
What’s Next for Nicki Minaj?
While critics may disagree on the album itself, none can deny the hype surrounding Nicki Minaj’s return to the spotlight.
A 2024 World Tour Has Been Rumored
With lyrics alluding to her legacy and queen status, could Minaj be gearing up for an epic world tour in 2024? No dates have been announced yet, but snippets of a tour visual motif can be spotted in her “Gag City” video teaser.
She Hints at Starting a Family
On the track “Mommy Mode,” Minaj raps affectionately about motherhood over a sampled lullaby:
“Used to dream about the career, now I dream about the picket fence. Time to focus on being a mommy.”
After marrying partner Kenneth Petty in 2019, could children be in Minaj’s future plans?
A Lead Actress Role May Be Coming
In interviews, Minaj expressed desire to try acting – perhaps in an autobiographical film about her come-up story.
She reflects on this on “Full Circle Moment”:
“Went from rapping in the street to having a dream to be an actress on the screen.”
With crossover stars like Lil Kim and Ice Cube finding success in movies, could Nicki Minaj become both a rap icon and Hollywood star?
After 13 long years, the Pink Friday saga feels completed with Minaj closing the loop. But as critics look forward, it’s clear Nicki Minaj still has big plans on the horizon.
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