Nicki Minaj is certainly one of the most successful female rappers in history. Whether or not she's the "most influential ever" is a debate that would take a while amongst most hip hop fans. That hasn't stopped the New York Times from giving that title to the Harajuku Barbie.
Check out a little bit of what they had to say.
Barely a year and a half has passed since the release of “Pink Friday,” the platinum debut album by Nicki Minaj, but her style is well honed. She’s a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase. She’s a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look. And she’s a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones. This hard and complex work has paid off: when she releases her second album, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” this week, it will be as the most influential female rapper of all time.
What’s even more striking is how far her reach extends beyond hip-hop. When Madonna needed to tether her current comeback to the young female transgressors of the day, she chose Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. (Savvy Nicki would never be the one to throw up a middle finger.) At the Grammys in February she gave the most shocking performance, part exorcism and part Broadway spectacle. And in the lead-up to her new album, out on Tuesday from Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic, her new songs have shown that she has no intention of being hemmed in by the expectations of genre, dabbling in slithery R&B on “Right by My Side” and outright giddy dance-pop on “Starships.” When rapping on the songs of others, she’s often the most capable M.C. around — take Birdman’s “Y. U. Mad?” — but on her own material she’s often straddling a line between hip-hop and pop that no other rapper is capable of, or would even dare.
A few years ago, before her rise began, there were hardly any female rappers of note; now, a new generation, including Azealia Banks, Brianna Perry and Angel Haze, is rising quickly, working territory that she carved out. This is a story about influence, to be sure, but also about the weakening of old walls, and the reshaping of the gates that the gatekeepers keep. Thanks to Nicki Minaj and the possibilities she has laid bare, and to hip-hop’s stasis of masculinity it is, outrageously and unprecedentedly, a more exciting time to be a female rapper than a male one.
As much as anything, this reflects what a barren playing field Nicki Minaj, 29, arrived onto. She signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Records in 2009 on the strength of a couple of years’ worth of mixtapes and street DVD appearances. The Nicki of that era was brassy and coarse, and intermittently clever. She had no real competition, and when she signed with Lil Wayne, there was little indication that she would drastically rewrite the rules for female rappers.
She did the obvious, and then more. She became a nimble, evocative rapper. She became an intricate lyricist. She became a thoughtful singer. She became a risky performer. She invented new personae. More than any other rapper in the mainstream, she pushed hard against expectations, and won. Only rarely did she allow herself to appear secondary to her male counterparts — even on songs like “Monster,” alongside Kanye West and Jay-Z, she more than held her ground. That was part of the blessing of being singular: with no one around to compare herself to, or for others to compare her to, she became her own watermark.
While that was happening, she morphed into the most eclectic black-music style idol since Grace Jones, and certainly the one with the quickest ascent to the style elite, with a look that’s loud, cartoonish and edging toward avant-garde. (Deep down, she’s too much of a populist truly to go there.)
She’s been on the covers of Vibe, XXL and the Fader, sure, but also of Cosmopolitan, Black Book, Elle and V. The current issue of Paper magazine features a modest Minaj on the cover: salmon blazer, lemon yellow top, Oscar-the-Grouch-green tangle of curls. Inside is a 16-page fashion spread full of models (sprinkled amongst commoners) wearing Nicki-inspired fashion: multicolored Afros, top-volume animal prints, neon makeup and shimmering fabrics, on both men and women.
To read the rest of the article head over to the New York Times.
Is Nicki in the same league as MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Peppa, Missy Elliot and Lauryn Hill in terms of her influence on the culture?