It’s the moment fans (and haters) have been waiting for: Nicki Minaj’s much-hyped Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded has finally been released. Will her new album silence her very vocal critics, or just add more fuel to the fire?

A second studio album typically comes at great risk for an artist: can they continue to deliver music the fans love, now that they’ve tasted the sweet flavor of success? Or will they flounder in a creative rut as they navigate their newfound career in the music industry?

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Getting to release a sophomore album is a feat unto itself, often rewarded with greater creative freedom and the cache of fame to pull in some of the best artists out there for collaborations. For Minaj, her dream for Roman Reloaded was to release an album that encompassed all of her many personalities and musical interests.

“The music itself: you’re going to get every side that I’ve ever shown and then a little bit extra. I’ve tried to make it very, very balanced, because I don’t ever want to be boxed in, and that’s always what drives me. So I made a very diverse album,” Minaj explained to Ryan Seacrest in a recent interview.

Diverse indeed. Roman Reloaded is a concept album based upon one of Minaj’s alter-egos, ‘Roman Zolanski’. On the album you will find 19 tracks that careen between top 40 pop and hip-hop with the grace of a hippo on a tightrope. As an artistic work, Roman Reloaded lacks cohesion and curation, and gives an impression of ambition without guidance, as opposed to the genius unleashed Minaj hoped it would be.

That’s not to say it’s all bad: there are definitely some hit singles on Minaj’s new effort. But it just doesn’t live up to be the masterpiece Minaj claimed it would be. The rap tracks feel like an afterthought, a last minute attempt to pander to the hip-hop base that rode with Minaj up through the mixtape game and onto team Young Money. Those fans get about 7 tracks of Nicki rhyming over very sparse beats, where often the guest rappers shine greater than the ‘femcee’ herself.

It’s the remaining 15 tracks that show Minaj’s dreams of top 40 success. Pop producers like David Guetta and RedOne (of Lady Gaga fame) take turns delivering Minaj’s singing vocals over synthesized tracks. It’s apparent from this album that mainstream pop music is where Minaj’s true passion lies, however it seems she still hasn’t found a unique niche for herself.

As a pop singer, Minaj is adequate, but not exceedingly talented or memorable. The songs, while decent, are dime-a-dozen top 40 fare, and you could easily replace her vocals with that of another pop artist and get the same results. Her take on pop music is not interesting, daring, or innovative, which is unfortunate, because Minaj’s talent as a star is undeniable. It’s her lack of creative direction that denies her the innovative persona she so desperately covets.

How will fans feel about the new album? Well there’s so much that mixtape-loving Nicki fans will put up with before they realize that hip-hop just isn’t a priority for her anymore. However, the crossover fans she gained with hits like “Super Bass” should be pleased — the pop songs on Minaj’s album are bound for radio success, regardless of their lack of originality.

But the vitriol critics have reserved for Roman Reloaded seems to be especially harsh. Not only did Huffington Post pan the album, they also scraped together her “19 most laughable lines.”

Slate magazine critic Matthew Cole wrote of the album, “tacked on to this mediocre rap album is a ghastly and desperate bid for a hit single that sees Minaj and producer RedOne snatching items from a veritable sale rack of tired Top 40 tricks and tossing them hastily over the most basic synth and drum-machine presets.”

Nicki Minaj is a highly polarizing artist. Scroll through any comments section about her and you’re likely to get nauseated by the roller coaster ride of opposing opinions. Pink Friday: Roman’s Reloaded will just further fuel this love-hate battle, giving her diehard pop fans more to love while the critics continue to be disappointed in her work.

Follow Kia Miakka Natisse on Twitter at @miakka_natisse

Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday Roman Reloaded tracklist
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Nicki Minaj – I Am Your Leader Lyrics
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Nicki Minaj – Come on a Cone Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Champion Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Fire Burns Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – HOV Lane Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Roman Reloaded Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Marilyn Monroe Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Masquerade Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Pound the Alarm Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Roman Holiday Lyrics
Nicki Minaj – Starships Lyrics
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Nicki Minaj – Whip It Lyrics
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