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Nicki Minaj could be accused of many things, but never stinginess. The Re-Up is a bumper 3-disc set featuring this year's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded album, a DVD of promo videos and an EP of new tracks. It's a classy alternative to the usual "deluxe" reissue, delivering new material between albums.
The Re-Up also seems to have an ulterior motive. The original Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was an exuberant mess of an album: it began with some brilliant rapping, turned Eurodance in the middle, then wound down with a series of gloopy pop ballads.
The new EP redresses the balance by adding seven new songs that showcase Minaj's flow - as opposed to her Auto-Tuned singing style. Her poppy recent single Va Va Voom is tacked on the end, but it feels like a Trojan horse to sell the more hip hop-flavoured new material.
Hopefully this works, because there's good music here. Tracks like Freedom, I'm Legit and The Boys give Minaj fresh, inventive productions to boast over; the latter is especially exciting, a mix of dancehall, folk and machine gun beats. Elsewhere, Hell Yeah is built on a fab Michael Jackson-style bassline, while Up In Flames is probably her grandest moment yet.
On most of these tracks, Minaj rises to the occasion. As her public persona becomes more cartoony, it's easy to forget what a talented rapper she is. The EP features her usual mix of crowing, cussing and dissing, but in the process, she slips in lots of clever pop culture references - everything from Twitpics to 1990s sitcom Blossom.
There's also some great wordplay: on Freedom, she rhymes "ya approval" with "ramen noodles", and pulls it off.
Admittedly, there's a lot here to digest. On the one hand, adding the new EP makes the existing album feel even more bloated and schizophrenic. But on the other, this is the era of iTunes and Spotify, and listeners can sculpt these 27 songs into whatever they want.
One suggestion: add the first six tracks from the original LP to five or six from the EP. The result is a tight, traditional-length rap album, something Minaj will probably never make.
All eyes are on Nicki Minaj, and not just on a superficial level. The runaway commercial success of debut album Pink Friday, combined with the New York Times recently labelling her "the most influential female rapper of all time", means her second studio set Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded has some serious scrutiny to face.
Early chatter suggested it was a concept album performed entirely in the guise of Minaj's gay male alter-ego, Roman Zolanski. And while there's a definite thread furthering Roman's narrative, it's by no means at the forefront - evidently, it's hard to camouflage a personality as immense and as deafening as Minaj's.
There's a sense of flagrant abandon in almost every note of PF: RR. Major-key, tap-along pop sensibilities; disquieting lyrical content; wide-eyed, over-pronounced Valley Girl patter; a reworking of O Come All Ye Faithful; shuddering, skeletal beats. And that's just the opening track. The album unfolds an immeasurable amalgam of genres and inspirations, all fused together in a diamond-encrusted bubble of futuristic, day-glo hip hop. The energy is palpable, the pace rarely lets up, and personality pervades throughout.
At a heady 19 tracks (all complete efforts, without a cliched hip hop interlude in sight), a handful of songs do get mislaid along the way - Right by My Side would have drowned amongst its noisier neighbours were it not for the attachment of Chris Brown, while the sluggish Sex in the Lounge barely registers at all.
It's not a question of volume, though, as many of the other serene numbers stand tall: Young Forever and Marilyn Monroe display the same tender vulnerabilities of breakthrough anthem Your Love, a necessary and successful respite in an album so boastful. But it's a knowing, tongue-in-cheek boastfulness - one that it's impossible to begrudge Minaj in light of her accomplishments. And in spite of the overt use of humour - often crude, often puerile, but continually effective - you're always left with the impression Minaj takes what she does very seriously.
Few artists in Minaj's position would dare to take risks as bold as this, and yet, it doesn't feel as though she even sees it as risky - she's breezily doing her thing, and the weight of whichever labels are bestowed upon her is irrelevant. Whatever the supposed role of Nicki Minaj within the hip hop hierarchy, whatever box she's pushed into, she'll have a hard time fitting in. Because, above all else, PF: RR cements her as a truly unique entity.