Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Nicki Minaj: The Pinkprint (Deluxe Edition) [Cash Money/Republic, 2014]
Sometimes gossip can be so enlightening. The reflective opener "All Things Go" is pretty solid on its own. But word that this particular best rapper alive just ended a 12-year relationship with her homeboy boyfriend renders the two ballads that work off that prologue touching. The bad part is that it doesn't render them major ballads, although she gets somewhat closer on "Bed of Lies" at the other end of the narrative arc before overblowing the supposedly climactic "Grand Piano." Only then come three album-defining bonus tracks. The Meek Mill-assisted "Big Daddy" is so generic it establishes how ungeneric the Drake/Weezy-assisted "Only" and the Lunchmoney Lewis-assisted "Trini Dem Girls" were--makes you want to play them again, in fact. And on "Shanghai" and "Win Again," Minaj returns to her triumphalist mode prepared to embrace the role of a 32-year-old woman ready for love--even, in both songs, the motherhood she reflects on as the record begins. A-