Nicki Minaj is not an artist to follow rules, and so with her third (kind of) album ‘The Re-Up’, she offers up a repackaging of her second album, which was also a repackaging of her first album. Inception has nothing on this girl.
In an interview with Tim Westwood, Minaj stated that the new songs on ‘The Re-Up’ would be hip hop only. We’re all guilty of dancing to ‘Superbass’ or ‘Starships’ in a club, but it seems Minaj is now consciously trying to get back to her rap roots. By dabbling in pop, Minaj has gained a wider audience, but rap is what she is best at and hearing her return with some solid rap tracks is fantastic.
The album kicks off with ‘Up in flames’, a song packed with soul and Minaj’s trademark bitingly sharp pop culture raps. By mentioning the R Kelly controversy of the noughties: “Even R Kelly couldn’t touch the kid”, she throws back to her close to the mark lines of her mixtape career. The hook is catchy and will stick in your head for hours after hearing the song.
Slowing it down on the next track is ‘Freedom’, a stripped down R&B track. This track features a combination of heartfelt rap and a dusting off of her singing chords to create a sound arrangement that is easy on the ears. Although I’m sure she’s bound to anger some with the opening line “They’ll never thank me for opening doors but they ain’t even thank Jesus when he died on the cross.”
Next up ‘Hell Yeah’ features the first collaboration on the album, with Parker Ighile. Minaj employs island drums to this track to take us back to her Trinidadian roots. This is more upbeat and closer to her pop offerings but still retains a hip hop edge as she name checks the boss of the game, Russell Simmons. If The Re-Up is going to make an appearance in the club, it will be through this song.
Nicki returns to being the First Lady to Lil Wayne’s President on ‘High School’. Emulating Wayne’s rap style as a mark of respect, Nicki more than holds her own against the rap great. Wayne’s feature on this track is a throwback to their ‘Higher than a kite’ days. The beat on this track is reminiscent of a Mariah Carey song, which is pertinent considering the Minaj-Carey American Idol feud of recent times.
The third collaboration on the album comes from Ciara on ‘I’m Legit’. The contrast of Minaj’s hard and fast bars against Ciara’s smooth vocals works really well. This song stands well on its own, but is very similar to ‘The Boys’ elsewhere on the album.
If Nicki’s alter ego Roman makes an appearance on The Re-Up it’s on ‘I’m Legit’ with lines such as ‘I’m like really famous/I got a famous anus.’ Okay, Nicki thanks for that.
‘I endorse these strippers’ is a playful mix of her Barbie persona with a touch of old Nicki. Tyga and Thomas Brinx flesh the track out to make it a stand out of the album. Another stand out is the line ‘Boobs, boobs lot of boobs.’ Who doesn’t love lots of boobs? Not Nicki Minaj for sure as she makes perfectly clear. A hip hop beat with fantastic collaboration from the YMCMB crew.
Minaj makes a return to her pop/rap mix that she has become famous for recently with ‘The Boys’. While it does have a pop beat to it, Nicki keeps it rap by laying down her bars crazy fast and with attitude. Cassie’s contribution is a robotic sounding voice and despite my dislike for it, I can’t help but sing the hook repeatedly. One huge bone to pick with this song is the lyric ‘I put all your bitches onto them good lace fronts’ from Minaj, the woman that couldn’t find a good lace front if it hit her in the face.
The Re-Up is Nicki Minaj on the next level. She has come full circle from rap, to pop and back to rap. That is not to say she is finished though, she is just starting to show people what she is capable of. The Re-Up would have been better with a few more songs and a release separate to her other albums, but it certainly does bridge the gap for her fans not used to her hip hop side.
…Megan has been listening to m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar