Nicki Minaj’s time is now. After turning heads (specifically Lil Wayne’s) with a series of explosive underground mix-tapes, the Queens-bred rapper’s freshman album Pink Friday — which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 — has made her a player to watch in the rap game. From a song-stealing verse on Kanye West’s posse tack “Monster” to a co-headlining gig with Katy Perry on VH1’s Divas, the newly crowned “Queen of Hip-Hop” is everywhere these days. Having already guested on songs for nearly every major act in pop and rap music, Minaj is finally getting her turn in the spotlight. She’s won three BET Hip Hop Awards this year alone and is nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 2011 Grammy Awards for her song “My Chick Bad” (with Ludacris). With her signature Barbie-meets-bad-bitch bravado and a clever cocktail of raw sexuality and street cred, Minaj’s appeal is gender blind, a tough feat that few female rappers have been able to achieve. And despite occasional distractions (speculations about her sexuality, a beef with Lil’ Kim), Nicki Minaj is on the verge of establishing herself as one of the greatest (and sexiest) emcees ever.
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