2010 has certainly been a breakout year for rap starlet Nicki Minaj. Her untitled debut album has been announced via her Twitter page (Twitter.com/NickiMinaj) to be dropping November 23, 2010. Prior to her ascent, the female rap game was largely M.I.A. save a few rumblings here and there. Her music has managed to combine elements of lyricism that pay homage to her predecessors – Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and even Remy Ma – with the creativity and artistic funkiness reminiscent of Missy Elliott. The result is a best-of-both-worlds creation who’s spaceship shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Did you know Minaj was discovered thanks to her MySpace page? After graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art — famous for being the school that inspired the movie Fame — Minaj worked to build her artistry. Studying singing and acting in school combined with the fact she was already blessed with a bombshell physique played to Nicki’s favor and appears to have helped fuel her ascent to the limelight. Her promo shots and freestyle skills were not missed by Dirty Money Entertainment CEO Fendi. She was featured on Fendi’s urban DVD magazine, The Come Up. Her appearance in Volume #11 with superstar rapper Lil Wayne would be a vision into the future. Through Fendi, Wayne contacted Minaj and signed her to his Young Money label in 2008.
Minaj seems to have the ability to surround herself with an A-list roster of talent. She recently changed management, ending her business relationship with controversial manager Debra Atney (see: Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame) to link up with Diddy for his career guidance services. Consider her current associations with Lil Wayne, Drake, and Young Money. Her memorable witty raps/punchlines are present on virtually every relevant artist’s song. Love her or hate her, the woman is working full time at her craft. You have to respect that.
Nicki Minaj rivals her peer Drake in that, like him she has generated a somewhat universal notoriety not previously seen by an artist that has yet to drop a debut album. One can’t help but ask the question what is she doing right? Why are we not anticipating Lil Kim’s (or even Foxy’s) next release like we are Nicki’s first?
Perhaps because, in the age of instant news, Minaj has managed to maintain an air of mystery about herself. We’re still unable to separate the person Onika Tanya Maraj from the entertainer/artist/brand. And maybe it’s because we know too much about Kim and Foxy. In the realm of hip hop, we require the bravado the rapper brings to their music to be reflected in their lives. We have grown with Kim and Foxy through the years and while they have put in quality work on the mic, too often we find in the headlines something contradictory to their pussy rules the world mentality.
Or maybe as fans, we just don’t have any loyalty towards the rank-and-file. Are we quick to give credit, accolades, and praise to some while withholding it who have truly earned it? One thing is for sure, Minaj’s emergence has ruffled the feathers of a few of the rap queens to the point that even Drake found himself interjecting his thoughts and defending his peer Nicki.
Remembering that music beefs should be about the music itself, Minaj has dominated the airwaves. Arguably her greatest success as a feature came on Usher‘s single, “Little Freak.” Soon after she followed with her debut single, “Massive Attack” featuring Sean Garrett from her as-yet-untitled album due out this summer. She followed up with a song that is currently the center of attention on radio, “Your Love” mimicking Drake rapping and singing on the track. As long as Minaj keeps her priorities straight and focuses her efforts on creating great music, we believe her career will continue to know no bounds.