In an age where the line between mixtape, EP, and album is increasingly growing thin, you have to wonder what the thought process behind releasing Roman Reloaded The Re-Up could’ve been. It’s only 8 new tracks, which is definitely short enough to be released as a standalone EP, so why not just present it as such? Nicki herself said that retailers such as Target aren’t stocking the album since it’s basically a repackaging of the same album… So one can’t help but wonder who within her camp thought that masses of people would be willing to buy the same album that they just bought(or didn’t buy) several months prior… but I digress.
Fortunately for me, before I started writing for the awesome site that is Womazing.com, I’d already submitted myself to the (mostly) audio torture that is Roman Reloaded, so to avoid unnecessarily treading over familiar ground, you can read my review for the original album on my now inactive blog site here: Roman Reloaded Review
But for those who aren’t curious enough to click the link, I gave the album a 2 out of 5 and said that Nicki was capable of so much more. While I have my doubts that an 8 track offering will be enough for me to once again start adding her music to my iPod playlist, I’m curious to see if she can redeem herself from that overly dumbed down, creatively lacking, collection of music that she called her sophomore album.
1.) Up In Flames- Even though she’s rapping like she’s spoon feeding her bars to her listeners, Up In Flames is actually pretty solid. Great production, solid hook, and bars that range from decent to pretty good. Overall, a strong start.
2.) Freedom- While it is true that Nicki really doesn’t get the props she deserves for opening new doors for female artists in today’s Hip-Hop, indirectly comparing yourself to Jesus Christ has me feeling some kind of way. I understand the simile, but I don’t think the two events are even remotely comparable. That’s just me being picky though, and it wouldn’t be Hip Hop without the occasional exaggerated claim. Other than that, Freedom is pretty solid, Nicki just runs through a list of her accomplishments just to remind you how much she’s accomplished in such a short period of time. It’s actually pretty admirable.
3.)Hell Yeah- One of my critiques of Nicki Minaj’s records is that she isn’t exactly subtle about the intent behind certain records that she makes, which is and isn’t a bad thing. Hell Yeah, for example, is so clearly aimed at the clubs that you can’t even imagine it being played elsewhere. I’ve always liked the type of song that just so happens to work in a party/club scene but again that’s just me being picky. Hell Yeah, accomplishes what it set out to do, as far as being a club ready record. There’s not much else to take away from it then that.
4.) High School- Imagine my surprise hearing a 2012 Lil Wayne feature that didn’t make pinch my brow, shake my head, and reminisce on he good he used to be. Nowadays, Wayne honestly just has temporarily flashes of genius, and his guest verse on High School is one of them. Overall, High School isn’t bad at all, despite the confusing song title and hook.
5.) I’m Legit- Now this track is a toss up. On one hand, I’m tired of the “All these b**ches is my sons” references and Nicki telling people to suck her imaginary d**k. Plus, she basically copy and pastes Big Sean’s flow for most of the song. On the other hand, sonically, it all meshes together pretty well. This is a track that you will enjoy (or not?) depending on your personal tastes.
6.) I Endorse These Strippers- This song is sheer laziness reminiscent of records off the original Roman Reloaded album. Nicki Minaj was featured on a 2 Chainz record less than six months ago, called “I Love These Strippers” and guess what her verse was about? Now we get her own version, of the same exact song sans 2Chainz, with almost the exact same title. It’s a potentially funny idea with lackluster execution throughout.
7.) The Boys- I don’t know when exactly Cassie decided to start taking her career seriously again but it seems she’s gotten even better since she came back. This is the second solid feature I’ve heard from her in the past few days and she manages to be the highlight of a record once again.
8.) Va Va Voom- Nicki should be commended for taking this long on an album to get to a pop friendly track… probably not the best way to close the Re-Up but since I expected most of the album to be pop, I can deal with one entirely unabashed pop record. However, like most of her other pop records, it really doesn’t do much to impress and is mostly forgettable.
Overall, I’m actually impressed with the amount of effort Nicki Minaj put into the Re-Up, and even more impressed with how much more genuinely Hip Hop oriented the project is. A lot of people, including myself, had assumed that Nicki had mostly turned her back on Hip Hop for the greener pastures of the pop charts, which is true to an extent. However the Re-Up shows that Nicki can still crank out some legitimately good Hip Hop Music when she feels like it. I wonder if Roman Reloaded would’ve been equally as shunned by most of the Hip Hop community if some of the weaker tracks had been switched out with Re-Up material… Although by now it may already be too late to try to win the skeptics’ affections back over. I give it a 3 out of 5.