Nicki Minaj's 'The Pinkprint' Album Cover Suggests This Could Be Her Most Mature Effort Yet — PHOTO

On Sunday evening, rapper Nicki Minaj unveiled the cover for the deluxe edition of her new album, The Pinkprint . The simple yet stylish artwork — a lone fingerprint preserved in what looks to me like a pile of spilled pink eyeshadow — suggests that Minaj really is done with the loud, in-your-face dance-pop sound of much of her last album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. If this recently revealed cover is any indication of the kind of music we can expect to hear on The Pinkprint, I think that it could end up being the 31-year-old star's most mature effort to date.

In the two years between the release of Roman Reloaded and "Pills N Potions," the lead single from The Pinkprint, Minaj underwent a major style transformation. Her trademark colorful wigs and zany outfits were gone — instead, Minaj opted for a much more sleek, sophisticated look during public appearances. She told MTV in an April 2014 interview that she had gone "so far" with her "costumes," she realized that the only way she could continue to "shock" and surprise people would be to actually scale things back a bit. The grown-up sound of "Pills N Potions" seemed to reflect Minaj's new image. And then "Anaconda" happened.

After Minaj dropped the frantic, Sir-Mix-a-Lot-sampling "Anaconda," I must admit, I was a little confused about the direction of The Pinkprint. Don't get me wrong, it's a cool song, but it sounds like it could've been included on Roman Reloaded. And then there was the music video. Whoa. Where was the emotional depth and subtlety of "Pills N Potions"? Where was Minaj's new "less is more" aesthetic? It's not that I think that The Pinkprint can't or shouldn't include fun tracks like "Anaconda" (far from it), it's just that the song felt so disconnected from what I thought was Minaj's new vision.

With The Pinkprint's deluxe edition cover, however, things seem to be back on track. It makes a powerful statement without being gaudy or over the top (not that there's anything wrong with being gaudy or over the top every now and then). Actually, in a perfect world, The Pinkprint would showcase both Minaj's newfound maturity and a little bit of her more silly, carefree side. Come to think of it, that's probably what she was trying to tell people when she released "Anaconda" right after "Pills N Potions" — I just didn't immediately connect the dots. I can't wait to hear what she has in store for us.

The Pinkprint will be released on Dec. 15.

Image: nickiminaj/Instagram