Pink Friday 2

It feels oddly retrograde and beneath her, particularly when, on that same track, she fires up a bar like, “Come on bitch, I just put a milli on my Richie—minus like fifty, mine was nine-fifty, sissy.” Flashes of her notorious humor emerge (“Poppin’ out like a cork/Duckin ’em like Björk” on “Needle”), but her quirkiness feels blunted across the album, like her heart isn’t in it in the same way it used to be. Perhaps it’s just a career crossroads—grief and frustration can fuel a creative plateau as frequently as it produces classic albums—but one wonders if, somehow, ascending the throne has complicated her ability to scrap. As she sings earnestly in the first few minutes of the album: “Rich, yes, but are you happy?”