“American Idol” has seen its most noisy week ever by actual talk of gun threats taking place the set connecting the judges, every one greater than an extravagant talent contest. Mariah Carey channeled Barbara Walters Thursday headed for tell her tale of woe greater than an alleged menace Nicki Minaj ended towards her. Sky talks about come again? countries have the largest penises, plus then the horde talk strange facts.
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
publisher: Universal Republic
price: $7.33 (new), $6.08 (used)
Minaj’s hotly anticipated Young Money/Cash Money/Universal sophomore set, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, will arrive April 3. In the meantime, the first-time Grammy Award nominee for best new artist is courting attention with the frenetic, candy-coated video for the album’s second buzz single, the autobiographical anthem “Stupid Hoe.” The Hype Williams-directed video has racked up more than 10 million views on YouTube. In fact, its Jan. 21 premiere clocked 4.8 million views on VEVO–the highest single-video number ever in 24 hours for the site.
That’s just the latest swell in a tidal wave of momentum that Minaj has been riding since Pink Friday debuted in November 2010. It soared straight to No. 2 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the Billboard 200 its first week, then commanded No. 1 on both charts in early 2011. After scoring her first chart-topper with “Moment 4 Life” featuring Drake, Minaj spent last year steadily racking up more hits (“Super Bass,” “Fly” featuring Rihanna) and setting chart records (“Bass” became the highest-charting Hot 100 rap hit by a solo female–without a featured artist–since Missy Elliott’s “Work It” in 2002). She simultaneously became the featured “It” girl on a string of high-profile singles by others, like David Guetta (“Where Them Girls At”), Trey Songz (“Bottoms Up”), Ludacris (“My Chick Bad”), Usher (“Lil Freak”), Kanye West (“Monster”), Drake (“Make Me Proud”), Britney Spears (“Till the World Ends” remix) and the new Madonna single with M.I.A. (“Gimme All Your Luvin'”).
Minaj went on to edge out mentor Lil Wayne, West and Jay-Z at the American Music Awards to win the favorite album and favorite artist in rap/hip-hop music categories. A branding and media darling, she graced 10 magazine covers last year, including W, Elle and Cosmopolitan, and was named Billboard’s Rising Star of 2011. Recognizing her pop cultural influence, Mattel issued a limited-edition Nicki Minaj Barbie that was auctioned for charity. A fixture at top designers’ shows during New York Fashion Week, the diminutive dynamo was tapped as the 2012 MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam spokesperson. And to top it all off, OPI recently launched its custom-designed Nicki Minaj nail polish collection.
It’s all part of the Minaj mystique, an engaging persona the New York Times has dubbed “the Technicolor Barbie with the big voice and an elastic smile.” But behind the fluorescent nails and makeup (including Minaj’s signature pink lipstick), neon wigs and provocative costumes, you’ll find a determined yet passionate artist whose singular goal remains unchanged: connecting musically with her growing legion of fans. And those fans, 7.5 million global Twitter followers whom she lovingly nicknamed “Barbies” (aka Barbz), have helped her spark a long-awaited female rap revival.
“They inspire me to work harder–hold me up while I’m down,” Minaj told Billboard about the love affair with her fans. “I wouldn’t be here without them. I could never have predicted any of this.”
Not even when she was attending LaGuardia High School, a music, visual and performing arts school where she studied drama. Born Onika Maraj in 1982 in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, Minaj moved to Jamaica, Queens when she was five. A one-time office manager and Red Lobster employee, Minaj released three mixtapes between 2007-2009–including the highly praised “Beam Me Up, Scotty”–and won the female artist of the year award at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. A year later, Lil Wayne signed her to Cash Money subsidiary Young Money. She subsequently appeared on Young Money’s 2009 debut compilation album We Are Young Money, featuring the hit “BedRock,” which included a solo rap verse by Minaj. The compilation itself reached No. 9 on the Billboard 200.
All this set the stage for Minaj’s own debut album, Pink Friday, and her first solo top 15 pop/No. 7 R&Bhip-hop charting single “Your Love.” More hits followed as did a growing list of accolades: first female artist to be included on MTV’s annual Hottest MC tally and first female MC to place seven simultaneous entries on the Billboard Hot 100. Beyond its eclectic mix of guests from will.i.am and Kanye West to Natasha Bedingfield, Pink Friday clicked with fans because of Minaj’s determination to not let people “make me like the typical New York rapper.” Indeed, she can effortlessly veer from rollicking hip-hop to vulnerable R&B, drawing on British and Jamaican accents coupled with breathy vocals and quick-draw rhymes delivered by her own cast of colorful characters from alter egos Harajuku Barbie and sexy Nicki to Roman Zolanski (who joins Eminem’s own alter ego Slim Shady on the riveting “Roman’s Revenge”).
An opening act on Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale tour last year, Minaj will embark on her own headlining tour in 2012 that will take her to Europe and Asia. This summer, she will be one of the featured voices in “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” as a wooly mammoth named Hailey. Also on the table: discussions about a fragrance deal and an alliance with an apparel company.
Whatever’s on the horizon, Minaj–very hands-on in every aspect of her burgeoning career–is just getting revved up. “My nation of Barbz and I have come a mighty long way,” she told Billboard as 2011 was winding down. “Yet we are nowhere close to where God will take us. Sit back and enjoy the ride.”
Mariah Carey – Greatest Hits
sales rank: 2238
price: $11.95 (new), $3.17 (used)
This has the best collection of songs