Friday 15 December 2017

Minaj is more than a pretty face

These days, there's rarely such a thing as a female pop artist who goes about her business without ruffling a few feathers.

Part of the job spec, seemingly, is to start scuffles on Twitter, bandy about colourful opinions, stage the odd wardrobe malfunction and cause mild puffs of controversy wherever possible. The current high priestess of pop, Nicki Minaj, has each one down pat.

The Queens rapper has rubbed everyone up the wrong way, from the Anti-Defamation League to Mariah Carey. Add to this an image carefully constructed from a divine marriage of pop art and Barbie dolls and it's little wonder that Minaj has broken from the pack.

This week the pint-sized rapper with a plus-size personality touches down in Ireland as part of her lengthy Pinkprint world tour. She's had a complicated enough love-in with the capital: after she cancelled her Irish date at the Olympia in 2012, Minaj took to Twitter for a tirade after her Irish fans made it clear they were none too happy about it.

"I was in jeopardy of losing my voice entirely and needing surgery on my vocal chord [sic]. If u can't understand that, your mother's a WHORE!!!!" she tweeted.

Clearly a smidge of damage limitation was needed after that outburst, and Minaj was later quoted as saying that she really rather loved us after all.

"O.M.F.G." she tweeted after her O2 date later that year. "It is now completely safe to say that DUBLIN is my favorite place in the whole wide world! omg, they're to die for!" Further hammering home her point, she admitted that the Pinkprint album was heavily influence by - wait for it - Enya.

Certainly, few would put the feisty rap superstar and ethereal Enya in the same sport, much less the same ballpark. And, as Minaj lurches from one celebrity spat to the next, it would be all too easy to overlook her musical output and dismiss her as a triumph of style over substance. The fact is, her music is every bit as overblown and bombastic as her personality, and is all the better for it.

Pinkprint is confessional, and boasting the polished sheen of a world-class pop album (Minaj was clear enough to enlist a roll call of luminaries, among them Beyonce, Drake and Jessie Ware).

Billboard has described it as "her best album to date. Minaj was finally able to out-rap herself and purge issues she's struggled with in private in her most exposed fashion yet".

Infectious though her music is, Minaj has still made hay while the proverbial sun shines, padding out her CV with film appearances and a spot on American Idol. From here on in, it's all to play for in Nicki Minaj's world. Just keep her away from the Twitter machine.

> Tanya Sweeney

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