By Rob Markman
Nicki Minaj's fans have watched the Young Money rapper's career skyrocket over the past year, and with her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded set to debut in 24 hours, things are only looking better. As Nicki continues to catapult herself into a global superstar, she hopes that her success will inspire fans to dream bigger.
Since she first jumped onto the scene, Nicki has encouraged her dedicated fanbase to live out their wildest dreams. MTV News caught up with the Young Money superstar right after she performed to open the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in February. We asked her what it meant to be ranked in the top five of our annual Hottest MCs in the Game list.
"If there's one thing I want people to take away from it, it's just that little girls can aspire to be anything, and that's all I want people to see," Nicki said between deep breaths, still winded from her energetic All-Star performance. "Whether you follow Nicki Minaj's blueprint or not, just don't be afraid to experiment and don't allow people to knock your hustle just 'cause it ain't something that you're used to seeing."
From her theatrical flow to her outlandish fashion sense, Nicki Minaj has definitely given fans things that they've never seen before. Who can forget when she gave both Jay-Z and Kanye West a lyrical run for their rap money on 2010's "Monster," or Nicki's anime-inspired VMA outfit?
In theory, Nicki's rap success should open the doors for more female MCs to be signed and fill hip-hop's gaping feminine void. Since the Harajuku Barbie's rise to prominence, women rappers like Kreayshawn, Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks have all made notable strides. "That's what I like," Nicki said about her number-four placement on the Hottest MCs list. "I like that I'm there because it gives little girls in Southside Jamaica, Queens, or South Africa or Brazil a moment to say, 'Oh wait, I can be a female rapper!' Yes, you really can."
To celebrate the April 3 release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, we will be examining the "Evolution of Nicki Minaj" throughout the week. Check MTV News every day to see how the Southside Jamaica, Queens, Barbie went from a promising mixtape standout to rap's reigning queen.