Fans have clearly gone gaga over Nicki Minaj's new album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which storms the Billboard 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Rap Albums at No. 1 this week with 253,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Minaj wants it clear, however, that she hasn't gone Gaga.
In an interview with ABC's "Nightline" Monday (April 9), Minaj refuted newfound comparisons to Lady Gaga. While Minaj's first album, Pink Friday (which topped the Billboard 200 the week of Feb. 19, 2011), sports a heavy rap focus, Reloaded mixes rap, R&B/hip-hop, pure pop and hi-NRG dance in fairly equal measure.
"Am I offended (by being compared to Lady Gaga)? No. Does it irk me? Yeah," she said, dismissing parallels in the stars' musical - and eccentric fashion - styles. "We are in completely different lanes.
"First of all, I'm a rapper. I'm from Southside Jamaica, Queens," Minaj said."Gaga is an incredible artist and she's made her own lane for herself, and I respect that, but I have my own lane, too.
"We never cross paths. Ever!"
A look at Billboard charts, however, reveals Minaj to be more of a pop/dance artist than she might realize - or want to admit.
Pop radio has warmly accepted Reloaded single "Starships," which jumps 14-11 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart. The track also charges 15-9 on Dance Club Songs, where it's her first top 10 as a lead artist.
Still, Minaj has maintained her base at R&B radio, as "Right By My Side," featuring Chris Brown, powers 40-24 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. She climbs 58-57 with another urban-leaning track from Reloaded, "Beez in the Trap," featuring 2 Chainz, while two other songs from the set previously dented the chart's lower half: "Stupid Hoe" (No. 53) and "Roman Reloaded," featuring Lil Wayne (No. 57).
An analysis of Minaj's top track sales from Reloaded this week reveals a similar consumer penchant for embracing both sides of the artist: her original R&B/rap stylings and her new heavier reliance on melodies and beats. The pop/dance-centric "Starships" leads with 232,000 downloads sold in the April 2-8 SoundScan tracking week, followed by budding R&B/hip-hop hit "Side" (72,000). Pop and R&B tracks alternate among her next best sellers in that span: "Va Va Voom" (46,000), "Beez" (35,000) and "Marilyn Monroe" (30,000).
Radio programmers likewise accept Minaj's multiple musical dimensions, despite her steadfast stance that she's still an R&B/rap act separate from Lady Gaga's pop/dance musical world.
"Being a rapper doesn't mean you can't also be a pop star," says mainstream top 40 WFLZ (93.3) Tampa, Fla., program director Tommy Chuck. The station has played "Starships" the most of all stations since its release (701 detections through April 12, according to Nielsen BDS). "To me, 'pop star' means that your songs have reached a level that most don't and have become mass-appeal hits.
"Minaj certainly has had mass-appeal hit songs with 'Super Bass' (a No. 3 Billboard Hot 100 hit last year) and 'Starships' (No. 6 this week)."
"At this stage, Nicki Minaj is one of only a few artists who can honestly call herself a superstar on both the pop and R&B charts," echoes mainstream top 40 WDOD (Hits 96) Chattanooga, Tenn., director of programming Danny Howard. The station has spun "Starships" 449 times through April 12. "I classify Minaj's music as 'rhythmic pop'."
"Regardless of how she defines her songs, her incredible soaring hooks have the ability to transcend labels and bridge gaps, which, after all, is what music does best."