NEW YORK – What was the first Nicki Minaj song you ever heard? Needless to say she’s come along way from her 2009 hit “Super Bass” in more ways than 1. Though that hit got her on the rap charts, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and is still being played to this day, she shifted from that cartoon Harajuku Barbie to a sophisticated Queen to say the least. Noticed I didn’t say “rap Queen” because she’s dominated much more than just the rap charts this year.
Suddenly we stopped seeing the bright pink wigs, over the top fashion and her alter ego Roman left the building and was replaced with a wiser, more fearless and more powerful Minaj and everyone seemed to love this one better than the last. She shocked the world with her change when she came out looking sexy but calm at this years Grammy’s, everyone loved her in Tom Ford’s tuxedo inspired black dress which hugged her curves just the right way and let’s not forget her Giuseppe Zanotti heels. Though it was last December’s project, The Pinkprint that really announced her shift to the world.
The Pinkprint showcases some of the best lyrics Minaj has ever produced, showing off her skill and how poetic she can be. The album touching on love, heartbreak, feminism and of course self-pleasure. It’s of course sexy, but raw and truthful where Nicki wears her heart on her sleeve for us. It was a nice shift instead of always seeing the turned up, sexed up Nicki Minaj this time we got a softer, more relatable side. She was proving her word of not only being the best in hip hop but also, stepping toe-to-toe with any diva in the pop world such as Beyoncé or Rihanna and holding her ground. The Pinkprint perfume which launched in September 2015, and it sold out that same day she also had huge success with her other perfumes such as Pink Friday, Minajesty, Minajesty: Exotic Edition, Pink Friday: Special Edition, Pink Friday: Deluxe Edition and Onika. She is the only woman on the Forbes hip-hop cash kings list she made her first appearance on the list in 2011 with an earning of $6.5 million. She placed eighth on the list in May 2012 earning $15.5 million, and then Minaj rose to 4th place in 2013 earning $29.9 million. She made her fourth consecutive appearance on the list in 2014 earning $14 million. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Minaj donated $15,000 to the Food Bank For New York City and held a turkey drive at her alma mater. In November 2010, she had her first endorsement deal with MAC cosmetics. Which she sold a lipstick called, “Pink 4 Friday,” for four consecutives Fridays to promote her album Pink Friday. In 2011 she collaborated with OPI collection and launched a nail polish collection with names that matched her songs. Minaj launched Viva Glam Early 2013, Nicki promoted the Viva Glam campaign herself which introduced “Nicki 2 lipstick and lip gloss”, she also introduced her clothing line “The Nicki Minaj Collection” at Kmart. In December 2014, Nicki was announced as the new face of Robert Cavalli summer/spring 2015 campaign. On March 30, 2015 it was announced Nicki was the co-owner of the music streaming app Tidal with Jay-Z.
Her second album, 2012s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was a mixture of things. It had a couple of hits such as “Beez in The Trap” and “Come on A Cone” but it also had a couple of flops such as “Starships” which sounded like a broke down version of “Super Bass.” It was weird seeing Nicki on your television screen as a judge on American Idol, but she stuck with it and the tea was served nice and hot when her and Mariah Carey bumped heads right before Nicki decided to leave idol, which that was a good call because who still seriously watches idol?
In 2014 she reminded us of her classic nasty flow on guest features such as Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone” and Young Thug’s “Danny Glover.” And with The Pinkprint slowly approaching, she showed us every side of her persona and it flowed effortlessly. She got down right nasty in “Anaconda,” kept up with the boys Drake and Lil’ Wayne in hits like “Truffle Butter” and “Only”, and then gave us a little taste of the old Nicki with “The Night Is Still Young.” She sold out the Barclays Center in her hometown of New York, where she performed one of the hottest tracks of the year with Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself.” She showed us that she was a strong, fearless, intelligent icon who can breakdown every barrier at her once again dominating both pop and hip-hop yet again.
Other than her obvious musical achievements, products and endorsements she also had a bit of a political presence. Nicki has never been one to hold her tongue and in this year where so many innocent black lives were taken, thank God she had so much to say.
It was 2015 when she became more outspoken about issues on both race and gender. She talked about Sandra Bland, prison reform, #BlackLivesMatter movement and being a black woman in the hip-hop industry. When she called out Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus after the MTV VMA nominations hit this past summer, it made for pure entertainment but also brought light to the issue of cultural catharsis. She is one of the few pop stars to risk their career to speak out on these issues so candidly. In November, Minaj read Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” at the A&E special on race in America. Completely embodying strength, struggle, beauty and success.
Nicki Minaj walks with a strength that should inspire women, uplift women and encourage women. “I want to be seen as a hard working businesswoman who really takes pride in writing and rapping. I’ve noticed that if you speak up for yourself, you’re a bitch. If you party too much, you’re a whore. Men don’t get called these things. I feel like women can do anything they put their mind to, and I just want women to always feel in control because we’re so capable. I love women who take control, who set standards, and who believe in themselves enough to lead the way in terms of their career.”