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Pink Friday (Young Money/Cash Money/ Universal Motown)

Nicki Minaj has been buzzing on hip-hop's landscape for so long, it's hard to believe that Pink Friday is her debut album. It's also hard to believe that the Wonder Woman-worshipping rapper who spit tentative non sequiturs on Mariah Carey remixes and Young Money cuts over the past couple of years is the same person here. Minaj isn't just aiming to be the new Lil' Kim; she's out to stomp the boys too. She faces off against Eminem in "Roman's Revenge" over Swizz Beatz's arrhythmic synth rampage and comes out on top. Elsewhere, Minaj tries her hand at AutoTune pop ("Your Love"), club-stunting electro ("Check It Out"), and turbulent digital psychedelic music ("Right Thru Me"), moving easily from one extreme to another. If Pink Friday leaves you wanting more of Minaj, fear not: She's got so many guest shots lined up, she's on track to eclipse even mentor Lil Wayne's freelancing gigs. — Ray Cummings


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