15 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Everything Nicki Minaj touches turns if not into gold then at least into something much more interesting. After making her name as a dynamite special ingredient to everyone else’s records, she finally lands her own debut album, 2010’s Pink Friday. Her guests, from Rihanna to will.i.am, may be there to bump up her profile, but they are no match for Minaj’s rapid-fire attack. Only Eminem on the truly nasty “Roman’s Revenge” can keep pace with her, as she tries out new personas — Roman Zolanski and his mom, Martha — with gleeful ease. Minaj tackles hip-hop and princess pop à la Gwen Stefani (“Right Thru Me”). She lets Rihanna deliver the radio-friendly sweet hook of “Fly” while she talks herself in blazing circles. “Moment 4 Life” is Minaj and Drake mixing it with newfound intensity. Kanye performs up to her level on the manic panic of “Blazin’”. “Check It Out” with will.i.am rides the sample of the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The Deluxe Version of the album includes five bonus tracks, including the ‘80s dance groove “Girls Fall Like Dominoes”. If anyone represents 2010, it is Darling Nicki.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Everything Nicki Minaj touches turns if not into gold then at least into something much more interesting. After making her name as a dynamite special ingredient to everyone else’s records, she finally lands her own debut album, 2010’s Pink Friday. Her guests, from Rihanna to will.i.am, may be there to bump up her profile, but they are no match for Minaj’s rapid-fire attack. Only Eminem on the truly nasty “Roman’s Revenge” can keep pace with her, as she tries out new personas — Roman Zolanski and his mom, Martha — with gleeful ease. Minaj tackles hip-hop and princess pop à la Gwen Stefani (“Right Thru Me”). She lets Rihanna deliver the radio-friendly sweet hook of “Fly” while she talks herself in blazing circles. “Moment 4 Life” is Minaj and Drake mixing it with newfound intensity. Kanye performs up to her level on the manic panic of “Blazin’”. “Check It Out” with will.i.am rides the sample of the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The Deluxe Version of the album includes five bonus tracks, including the ‘80s dance groove “Girls Fall Like Dominoes”. If anyone represents 2010, it is Darling Nicki.

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About Nicki Minaj

Few artists have impacted 21st century rap like Nicki Minaj. Born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago in 1982 but raised mostly in Queens, Minaj attended Manhattan’s prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the inspiration for the movie Fame) before trying to make it as an actor— a past evidenced by the deep performative streak that runs through her music today. Turning to rap in her twenties, Minaj quickly became one of the brightest stars in Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money universe. Her work—shapeshifting, ferocious, cartoonish, and often filled with oddball voices and alter egos—is as capable of breaking hearts (“Super Bass”) as it is detaching heads (her breakout verse on Kanye West’s 2010 “Monster,” in which she arguably outshined both West and fellow guest Jay-Z). Minaj’s electrifying presence has also made her a secret weapon in the pop world, where she's just as likely to share credits with David Guetta and Justin Bieber as Ludacris and Future. On top of her own success, Minaj helped rap—and rap audiences—look past narratives of gritty realism for something fluid and playful, but no less genuine or powerful. Railing against the double standard faced by women in entertainment, the outspoken Minaj once told MTV, “You have to be a beast. That’s the only way they respect you.”

HOMETOWN
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobag
BORN
08 December 1984

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