The moment after you mention Nicki Minaj there’s often times a negative response. Whether that be in terms of her music or just simply who she is. Most of that can be chalked up to her being an unapologetic black woman. Not only that but being a black woman who still dominates the rap game.
But what I’m here to discuss is a very underrated album: The Pinkprint.
Now for those who may not be more than just a casual fan of Nicki, it’s her third studio album that released in December 2014. The vibe of the album is very different compared to her older albums or work for that matter.
The first track you hear is “All Things Go” which has Nicki’s voice in basically its rawest form. There’s no auto-tune overpowering the intensity of the line delivery or even taking away from the lyrics. As the song progresses to the chorus you start to soak in how personal it really is, how intimate, almost like you’re reading her personal journal. Then the chorus hits with the “all things go” and “it” either knocks you backwards or it doesn’t. Moments of your own where that resonates begin to flood and maybe you’re overwhelmed or possibly not.
“All Things Go” touches on Nicki’s past experiences with proposals, having an abortion, her family issues and what she wants for the future.
“I Lied” is the second track on the album and the song is about trying not to let herself go in terms of love (ironically this is the theme and All Things Go happens to come before it on the album.) You hear the lyrics “Even though I said I didn’t love you I lied, I lied“.
Nicki sings in a haunting way that leaves a certain impression as you’re listening. You can hear how tortured she is with how she’s feeling. And that’s a part of what makes this track so special. These are the types of songs a casual listener might not even expect from Nicki. That in itself is a shame.
“The Crying Game” comes in as the third track on the album and in my opinion it’s one of the rawest.
“Here we go again, it’s the game we love
Sheets all over the floor and they laced with drugs
You ain’t play your cards right, you had the Ace of Clubs”
Once Verse 1 ends, Nicki starts singing as opposed to just rapping and despite how prior to this album she’d sang in her songs before – it’s definitely a shock to the system (for a casual listener.)
“Are you alone? Do you need someone?
Is it too late to talk? Did I wait too long?
Thousand words don’t change a thing
Is it only three? Three words that you’re missing?”
(The other woman on the track is Jessie Ware who sings the Pre-Chorus and the Chorus as well.)
This track focuses on how she’s unpacking a lot of baggage. All the emotional songs on her album are actually very personal. For me personally the lyrics in Verse 2 hit home in a lot of ways and that’s the whole damn point. Songs like this don’t always need to connect to you personally but when they do it makes for a different experience in terms of listening to the album and taking in the lyrics.
Skip all the way to track fourteen and you’ll get “Pills N Potions” which was actually released as a single before the album came out. The beats within the song are definitely not ominous or even heartbreaking in tone but the lyrics are a different story.
When you listen to the song it’s about being conflicted, betrayal and how like the lyrics say, “people will love you and support you when it’s beneficial” and Nicki spits Verse 2 without apology.
The song jumps around when it comes to emotion which should be the point of a song like this. You take more from it especially when it repeats: “I still love, I still love, I still love” becauseit leaves it open ended.
Once the song ends “Bed of Lies” (this was also a single) comes swooping in to take you back a couple steps. It’s trying to steer you in a different direction when Skylar Grey (who is featured on the song) begins singing the Hook.
“Do you ever think of me when you lie?
Lie down in your bed, your bed of lies
And I knew better than to look in your eyes
They only pretend you would be mine
And oh, how you made me believe
You had me caught in every web that you weaved
But do you ever think of me when you lie?
Lie down in your bed, your bed of lies”
Verse 1 comes crashing in like a massive wave ready to wipe you out. Nicki goes in and basically picks apart her former lover (everyone knows who this song was referencing) and again, there’s no apology.
A running theme throughout all the intimate songs on the album is vulnerability & being unapologetic in however that manifests. Whether it be admittance of not being able to let go or admittance of resentment and anger.
“They say you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
They say that your darkest hour come before your dawn”
Those lines are addressing the cliché saying of not knowing what you got until you lose it. As well as how bad shit usually happens before anything else. As cliché as all that is – it doesn’t come off as corny or cringe-y on this track. In fact, it’s like a breathing moment before you’re right back in the emotional waves.
The emotional intimacy increases in Verse 2 because Nicki really refuses to hold herself back on this song. She’s allowing herself to be vulnerable about what went down for her and how it felt.
“I just figured if you saw me, if you looked in my eyes
You’d remember our connection and be freed from the lies
I just figured I was something that you couldn’t replace
But there was just a blank stare and I couldn’t relate
I just couldn’t understand and I couldn’t defend
What we had, what we shared, and I couldn’t pretend”
Those are some of my favorite lines from this song not only due to personal reasonings but because there’s depth. You’re not getting some manufactured experience that doesn’t relate to the artist whatsoever. What you get from this song is Nicki unloading and her not giving a damn that she is doing so. There’s no regret in terms of her line delivery.
Even though the Bridge was Skylar Grey rather than Nicki, the vibe remained the same. There’s some clever word play that brings you back to how the beginning of the song is. You come to that moment of “…this sucks” and if it’s relatable in some capacity then it really does.
The very last emotionally intimate song on this album is “Grand Piano”. Personally, this was extremely fitting to be the last emotional song. It’s simply a ballad and it showcases how capable Nicki is as an artist. This is a song where she’s just laying it all out on the table.
“Am I just a fool?
Blind and stupid for loving”
Compared to the other songs this has a lot more of a melancholic tone. All of the instruments in the background take you somewhere else. Almost like you’re sinking instead of just being swept up in a wave. There’s no break because the song is just taking you under for a while. Being wrapped up like that is something that might not be expected.
“The people are talking, the people are saying
That you have been playing my heart like a grand piano
So play on, play on, play on”
The mistreatment is more than evident throughout the song, but the chorus highlights it perfectly. In my opinion this is one of those songs that’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. Mainly if you relate to it personally. It’s supposed to make you think of whoever this might to relate to for you.
While The Pinkprint might not be an overly emotional album in its entirety, these songs are what make it special to me. They were and still are gems that showcase Nicki’s range vocally and her complexity as an artist. She sets an example of vulnerability as a black woman especially within rap as a genre.