It was back in ‘07 when she made a couple of tapes, a couple DVDs, and a couple of mistakes. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she put on a cape. Now, there are a lot more female rappers in the music game today. I didn’t even have to say her name, but you probably already know that I’m referring to Nicki Minaj.
When she became mainstream with Pink Friday in 2010, she took the world by storm. “Your Love,” “Fly,” and “Super Bass” were bonafide hits, and she became the first female rapper to score a number one album on the Billboard Hot 200 since Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady in 1999. To this day, Pink Friday is still the second highest-selling female rap album of all time, and it opened the door for all of the female rappers who came after.
Even the streaming era has Nicki Minaj to thank. Back in 2015, she was the first artist to speak out against streams not counting toward album sales. At that time, pure sales were the only thing that counted toward an album’s units. In other words, streams on Pandora, Apple Music, and Spotify did not count. Because of that, albums like The Pinkprint by Nicki Minaj, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, and Ghost Stories by Coldplay were not properly certified. Had she decided to stay quiet, streams would probably still be falling by the wayside, and platinum would be so much harder to get.
However, her outspoken nature has put her in hot water time and time again, and, unfortunately, she’s made a lot of enemies. The Grammy’s basically barred her from ever getting one of their trophies after her performance of “Roman Holiday” in 2012. Remy Ma released the diss track “Shether” against her in 2017. Cardi B threw a shoe at her during the Harper’s Bazaar ICONS Party in 2018. And several hate trains have come after her on Twitter and Instagram. Still, she stood tall and proved that she’s not going anywhere, surpassing 100 records on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017, beating the Grammy’s in viewership in 2019 by 1.1 million with her show Queen Radio, scoring her first number-one record with fellow rapper Doja Cat with “Say So” in 2020, and creating her own record label in 2023.
That’s all to say that a woman standing no taller than 5’ 2” found a way to consistently put her foot on haters’ necks and pave the way for the ones to come after her, creating a “pinkprint” that will be studied for generations. Today, women are more prevalent in rap than ever before, and we all have Nicki Minaj to thank. If you get bored this weekend, I suggest checking out her documentaries. My favorite one, My Time Again, is currently available on YouTube, and it chronicles her life leading up to The Pinkprint and its release.