Neither Eminem’s guest verse nor Busta Rhymes’ schticky, nostalgia-grabbing remix could compete with Nicki Minaj’s performance on “Roman’s Revenge,” a straight-rapping highlight from the disarmingly pop Pink Friday. Nicki’s manic, endlessly quotable verses proved her talent wasn’t just for pouncing onto other peoples’ songs and stealing them away (Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad,” Kanye’s “Monster”), but for remaining markedly consistent and unafraid of the competition. Enter Lil Wayne.
Fresh off the back-to-rapping style heard on Birdman’s “Fire Flame (Remix)” and his own out-of-prison single “6 Foot 7 Foot,” Lil Tunechi maybe doesn’t match Nicki’s delivery, but he at least keeps up. It’s an appropriate pairing: Nicki wouldn’t be able to grimace, scream, and rhyme like this had Wayne not totally rearranged what rapping could sound like a few years ago, and a Nicki song is probably the only place where Wayne can just go off and not come as completely incongruous with the rest of the song (as he does on “Fire Flame”).
Wayne is rattling off lines and ideas and making car noises with little control, but there’s a bizarro concept to the rapping here too. You don’t begin a verse with eating imagery and end it with references to going to the bathroom if you don’t know what you’re doing. Also: The way he sneaks in some #hashtag rap so fast it barely even registers (“And she don’t want nothin’ but my Johnson / Howard”) is particularly brilliant, given the fact that even Nicki can’t rap in this style and not have it miss most of the time.
4 1/2 BOLTS