Although it was explained in pre-release promo material as a return to her early hardcore rap style, Nicki Minaj's third studio album landed as the diva's own 808s & Heartbreak, although one with an extra booty-worshiping summer hit ("Anaconda") plus some bad ballers that really do bring back mixtape memories ("Feeling Myself," where special guest Beyoncé acts like a wonderful cross of Lil' Kim and Grace Jones; then there's the traptastic "Only," which is just too nasty to summarize). "Trini Dem Girls" is an oddball, although quite enjoyable, dancehall plaything that barely fits on the LP as well, but the rest is a deep dive into breakups, heartache, and rebirth. "Bed of Lies" with Skylar Grey, "All Things Go," and "The Crying Game" are superior, stylized R&B and pop blends that find Nicki singing more and revealing much more than previously. Still, it's the small, simple confessional "I Lied" that comes off the best, putting a long-term relationship to rest with all the confusion ("Even though I said don't touch me, I lied") and pride ("That shit wasn't real, it was magic") that most other breakup songs miss. "Grand Piano" is a close second as Nicki's complicated heart demands committed lovers and pities those not up to the task, while "Get on Your Knees" with Ariana Grande is equally as strong but from another angle, putting listeners in the body position of delivering oral sex and suggesting we all play the rebound lover at one point or another. After all, "It builds character," which, in the end, seems to be the album's outlook on life itself. A bold progression from her previous work with some porno and punch line classics thrown in, The Pinkprint is certainly scattered, but it's well written and weighty where it needs to be, and it remains intriguing the whole way through.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries