Nicki Minaj

It's interesting that the same fans who are decrying Nicki Minaj's newer music as "not hip-hop" anymore were probably a year ago calling "Super Bass" pure brilliance. "Super Bass" is a pop track. It wasn't until Minaj released her second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded's rave-up single "Starships" that the purists starting crying foul, even though music fans should know that if there's one thing an artist hates, it's being pigeonholed. Minaj is a woman who wears many multi-colored wigs—just because she wants to rap about Bud Light and shake it in a bikini doesn't mean she's no longer the same girl who spit the jaw-dropping, song-stealing verses in Kanye West's "Monster." Sure, "Starships" is fluffy, and Minaj's newest single "Pound the Alarm" is a mess, but Roman Reloaded still has more than a few sharp moments ("Beez in the Trap," "Champion"). Minaj is just exploring her options. When you're a huge pop star, what's stopping you? With 2 Chainz. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Sat., Aug. 11, 8 p.m., 2012

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