Nicki Minaj paints the town pink with her long-awaited debut Pink Friday, in stores now. After stealing the show with verses for Mariah Carey, Trey Songz, Robin Thicke, Usher, and more, the Young Money femcee busts out on her own. How does this Barbie play with critics? Find out below.
USA Today: Her long-anticipated debut, Pink Friday, has two missions: Cement Minaj’s stardom and, perhaps, wedge the door open a little wider for more female rappers. Friday gets it about half right. There’s enough pop ear candy to ensure that she’ll stick around, but she’s probably got more work to do to win over doubtful hip-hop heads. 3 out of 4
Entertainment Weekly: Oddly enough, the accented voices and self-assured rhymes that propelled Nicki to stardom are hardly what make this a solid album. It’s those moments when the eccentric wigs are off and aliases put away that the best songs are revealed. B+
Rolling Stone: Friday is surprisingly pop—there’s nothing as weird or striking as her “Monster” cameo. Instead, Minaj aims for a Rihanna-style crossover approach, singing R&B choruses over electro floss and toning down her nasty side. 3.5 out of 5
SPIN: As an MC showcase, though, the album falls short, with no verses as memorable as those she dropped for Robin Thicke, Usher, Trey Songz, Ludacris, or Mariah Carey. But this self-styled Harajuku Barbie certainly can compete with the big boys, and she doesn’t let anyone forget it. 7 out of 10
Los Angeles Times: Even though her roots are elsewhere, Minaj sounds better on the Pink Friday tracks that are more squarely in the club R&B vein, which she almost always spikes with enough rap to remind anyone that she isn’t another Beyoncé or even Sasha Fierce, not by any stretch. 3 out of 4
The New York Times: More frustrating are the emotionally fraught numbers here, which are plenty: Pink Friday has more in common with a Mary J. Blige album than any hip-hop record. The mode is most convincing on the truly sad “Dear Old Nicki” and the album opener, “I’m the Best,” on which she says, “I’m fighting for the girls that never thought they could win.”
Associated Press: While Minaj’s proven she can jump on someone’s song—or idea—and get the job done, on her own songs, she struggles to make something to call her own. Pink Friday is a 13-track set that is full of songs that either showcases Minaj’s cockiness or her vulnerability. You’ll listen to the songs and wonder: Do you have anything else to rap about?
The Washington Post: Pink Friday is full of songs just like that, and to anyone who heard its early, hardcore-heavy leaks, these softer, usually romantic tracks may feel like compromises, meant to reassure mainstream listeners that Minaj is a semi-proper girl with, you know, feelings, not just a piranha with a gymnastic flow.
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Roman’s Revenge,” “Fly,” “Save Me,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Blazin'”