Pound The Alarm
Label: Nicki Minaj/Cash Money
Everyone loves Nicki Minaj: She's a self-described Harajuku girl with a potty mouth and a dementedly theatrical fashion sense to match. But do we love her music? Like her 2010 debut, Pink Friday, the new Roman Reloaded straddles her audience's demands for both face-melting rhymes and pop confections. The former camp gets the "HOV Lane" (as in Jay-Z, aka "Jay Hova") and ciphers with Rick Ross, Cam'Ron and Nas; pop fans get clubby house tracks made by Lady Gaga producer RedOne, including the dance-pop hit "Starships." Blending these two identities into a satisfying whole proves elusive.