10 Years of ‘Pink Friday’
Today in 2010, Nicki Minaj released arguably the most anticipated debut album of all time: Pink Friday.
As far as pre-debut runways go, the one leading up to Pink Friday is among the longest we’ve ever seen. Nicki began making waves independent rapper three years prior, when she was featured on Lil Wayne’s Da Drought 3 mixtape. By 2009, she had released three mixtapes of her own and was even charting on the Billboard hip-hop charts. Also, she was now signed to Weezy’s Young Money Entertainment.
Following her show-stealing verse on the “5 Star” remix in late 2009, her profile rose significantly. Over the next year, there’d be dozens of guest verses on songs by established artist, including Ludacris and Mariah Carey.
In early 2010, she released “Massive Attack” (featuring Sean Garrett), which was supposed to be the first single from Pink Friday. However, the song was so poorly received (and rightly so) that it got abandoned and removed from the album. There’d be three more lead singles: “Your Love,” “Check It Out” (featuring will.i.am) and “Right Thru Me.” They generally underwhelmed, and had “hip-hop heads” questioning her bona fides — partially because the songs were melodious in a way that certain hip-hop fans hate, but also because she sings on all three singles.
At this point, more and more people are beginning to doubt Nicki, and then “Monster” drops.
On a track were Kanye West, Rick Ross and Jay-Z all have a verse, Nicki not only held her own, she upstaged all three of them. “Monster” wasn’t a single from Pink Friday, but it provided a perfect opportunity for her to showcase her skills one last time before her debut album dropped.
Pink Friday finally dropped — the same day as Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — and debuts at No. 2. It eventually ascends to No. 1 and proved to have staying power on the charts. The album would release four more singles, including “Moment 4 Life” (featuring Drake) and “Super Bass,” the album’s biggest hit.
Pink Friday wasn’t particularly loved by people who got to know Nicki during her mixtape years, but the casual pop fans ate it up. Much like Loud by Rihanna (who appears on Pink Friday), it was an album that tries to please everyone. It gives you gully moments on “Did It on’em” as well as hip-pop confections like “Last Chance” (featuring Natasha Bedingfield).
In addition to the big-name assists mentioned, the album includes collabos Kanye and Eminem. The latter collabo, “Roman’s Revenge,” is a standout moment on the album. Nicki delivers some of her most cutting lines on the Lil’ Kim diss track, and the Busta Rhymes reference makes the song immediately memorable.
Elsewhere on the album, there’s quite a bit of singing, particularly on “Save Me,” which Nicki sings from start to finish. The song feels like an odd creative choice at first because Nicki is not a great singer. However, it grows on you, and many years later, stands out as a shining moment — in fact, the album’s best.
Pink Friday is not the debut album many expected from Nicki, but over the course of a decade, much of the album has aged well, which is the best vindication Nicki could ask for.