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November 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM EST

Let’s flash back to two years ago, back when everybody thought listening to Far East Movement was a good idea.

Back then, Nicki Minaj was merely a buzzed-about rapper from New York at the center of a bidding war ultimately won by Lil Wayne. Minaj was hailed as a revolutionary, the woman to elevate female MCs to the next level and introduce the next great wave of hip-hop.

And that sort of happened; while Minaj’s debut album Pink Friday was spotty, it still contained some truly stunning moments of prowess that seemed to deliver on the promise of her greatness. In the meantime, she stole just about every song she guested on (most especially Kanye West’s “Monster”) and continuously added to her army of “Barbies.”

But that was then. Over time, the wheels came off somewhere, and Minaj became the sort of star who allows an embarrassing E! reality series to be made about her, takes a job sparring with Mariah Carey on American Idol, and weighs down the re-release of her already pop-bloated second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded with middle-of-the-road R&B tweets like “Freedom,” which you can hear below.

Calling her career “the pinkprint” is pretty clever, but the rest of it sounds like it could have been made by just about anybody. As I said in my original review of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, the most frustrating thing about Nicki Minaj is that she seems to actively subvert the fundamental skills that let her stand out from any other rapper or pop star out there. She has the kind of gift that can force the rest of the world to come to her, but chooses to meet pop radio in the middle instead.

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded — The Re-Up (as unnecessarily complicated a title for anything since the Star Wars prequels) hits stores on Nov. 19.

Read More on EW.com:

Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj coordinate a pool party for ‘Beauty and the Beat’: Watch the ‘stolen’ video here

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