When I first clicked on Pink Friday, I felt as if I was doing something which I was disqualified from, due to my age. It seemed to me that I was poking my nose into a club of which I could never hope any longer to be a welcome member. At 62 (as was), I should have been settling down gracefully with Beatles and Stones repackages, and reunion tours of bands which had expired 30 years ago. Yet it never felt that way for me: music has played such a vital and constantly rejuvenating role in my life, and I've never ceased to be amazed by the way in which the music we generally know as rock can constantly reinvent itself in ways which not even the most radical 60s pioneers (Beatles, Zappa, Dylan, Wilson, Spector, Bowie, etc.) could ever have dreamed of.
The music which has soundtracked my life has been as varied and chameleonic as I never would have expected. Having started at 13 with Frank Ifield (...no, why should that embarrass me?!!) and The Tornados, inspiration and excitement has come to me from acts as diverse as Alan Price, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Beach Boys, Love, The Doors, Yes, Genesis, Tangerine Dream, Pat Metheny, Donna Summer, Van der Graaf Generator, Steve Reich, Renaissance, Lush, and many, many others, to give me a wonderful collection of around 9000 records, none of which I regret buying (OK, some were a bit tragic, but they still represent moments in time, and I'd never part with a single one). You'd think by now I'd have heard everything I could ever wish to hear, and had lost my capacity to be impressed.
Prior to Ms Minaj, I had already bought stuff by Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, so I was familiar with the rap oeuvre. But when I heard about Nicki, and decided to check her out on YouTube, I was absolutely blown away. Most rap and hip hop was, to my ears, a sullen, tuneless, aggressive noise, short on musical appeal and long on in-yer-face attitude. It was only the sweeter female take on it that opened my ears a little. The more I saw and heard of Nicki, the more I felt 'if only all hip hop / rap was this way'.
Pink Friday was a completely new experience for me, and one which made me wish that I'd been born 30 years later (although then, of course, I would have missed out on all the excitement of the 60s and 70s, not to mention my path never crossing with several cats and friends - I guess you can't have it both ways).
If you buy one album by somebody and are hugely impressed, you're far more likely to be up for buying the next one, unheard. Roman's Revenge was one such - and I expected great things from it. And was I disappointed? Absolutely not!!! From the fizz and sparkle pop-hop of Starships and Pound the Alarm to the bizarre, abstract soundscape of Beez in the Trap, this album just sets off wave after wave of multicoloured fluorescent lavabombs and cascading comets of sonic scatter-bling.
I've never heard - or seen - anybody like Nicki in my life. Sure she's sexy and sweet, but she's also got seemingly inexhaustible talent, which will see her take her place at the forefront of the 21st century's most innovative artistes. She will be imitated by many, but never equalled. Even if you think you're too old for the music of the present era, you will not fail to be impressed by this album.
The big question now is, can she do it again with the 3rd album? My guess is, she will. I'm waiting with bated breath.