The new Nicki Minaj album, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," is out and set to take the top spot on Billboard's albums next week, despite the fact she’s more divisive than ever. Literally: The first half is hardcore rap and the second is club-derived pop. It's not actually much disputed that she's one of the greatest rappers in the world right now - and she might well be the very best.
But the people claiming to be the truest hip-hop fans only seem to prefer half of the artist, namely when she claims to be playing an invented male personality named Roman. This is often dissonant with her feminine aesthetics and Lady Gaga-influenced wardrobe, part of why she's celebrated as such an original. So why does a rapper as self-evidently talented as Nicki have to recast herself as a man? Well, to get respect.