Nicki Minaj kicked off her 29th birthday on the video set for Madonna's "Give Me All Your Love," and if that collaboration isn't enough indication of the monster year she's had, then factor in the kiss and personal birthday song Madge threw in.
Minaj released her debut album Pink Friday in November 2010, but her popularity hit fever pitch this year, which is why MTV has named the Young Money rapper the #2 in MTV's Artists of 2011 list, second only to Katy Perry.
Running off the momentum of last year — when she performed at Jay-Z and Eminem's sold-out Yankee Stadium shows — Minaj joined her YMCMB family on Lil Wayne's I Am Still Music Tour early in 2011. She then surprised even herself by landing an opening stint on Britney Spears' Femme Fatale Tour, where the two treated audiences to joint performances of Spears' "Till the World Ends" remix.
In addition to the fans she gained from both high-profile tours, Nicki's new cult following grew even more after her monster single "Super Bass," which became a pop-culture phenomenon and landed at #2 on MTV's Best Songs of 2011 list. Video clips of pop stars such as Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez rapping over the track made rounds on the Web, catapulting the song to new heights.
It makes sense then that when Minaj won the award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist at the 2011 American Music Awards, she gave a shout-out to Taylor Swift — who was in the audience mouthing the words to "Super Bass." That night, Minaj also beat out Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album of the year, but that was only a fraction of her 2011 awards-show sweep.
The colorful clip that accompanied "Super Bass" nabbed a Moonman for the year's Best Hip-Hop Video at the VMAs, and the Young Money rapper took home a trophy for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards. Top that off with Billboard's 2011 Rising Star Award and a much-coveted 2012 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
Music was only the beginning of Nicki's whirlwind year. The Queen Barb inked a new deal with OPI nail polish to release her own six-color line in 2012, and in November, she joined Ricky Martin as the face of MAC's 2012 Viva Glam campaign (hear her rapping about both deals on Drake's Take Care single "Make Me Proud").
As the new projects and collaborations continued to roll in from left and right, Minaj's throng of Barbz began to press her for new music, which prompted Nicki to announce a February 14 release date for her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The LP's first single, "Roman in Moscow," debuted just as Mattel immortalized her in a one-off Nicki Minaj Barbie doll that would be auctioned off for charity.
The public's love affair with Minaj this year was easy enough to sum up in words, but D12's Bizarre put a visual spin on it with the strange but entertaining "Hey Nicki" video. The clip catches the Detroit rapper vying for her attention, and although it reaches into creepy territory, you can't help but feel that the masses perfectly understand Bizarre's infatuation. If you still haven't had enough Nicki Minaj in 2011, catch her closing out the year on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve.