On Tuesday (April 12), after weeks of speculation, it was revealed that Nicki Minaj would be joining Britney Spears' upcoming Femme Fatale tour, replacing Enrique Iglesias, who dropped off the high-profile trek earlier this month.
It's a big look for Nicki, though, to some, her addition was a bit of a head-scratcher. After all, she's certainly not the traditional Britney opener, and with just one album (and some mixtapes) under her belt, it remains to be seen how Minaj's live show will translate to Spears' massive stage. Oh, and then there's the very legitimate question of whether the two artists' audiences are even aware of the other's existence.
Still, at this point, Minaj has done just about everything to prove those naysayers wrong — hit singles and platinum-plus albums tend to have that effect — and over the course of roughly three years, she's risen from street-DVD sensation to go-to guest star and, finally, to full-fledged pop sensation — and the Femme Fatale tour is proof.
So, as she prepares to head out on the road with Britney, let's take a look back at that transformation. Here are Nicki Minaj's top pop moments.
Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face" video shoot, February 8, 2010: Nicki took her first step toward pop success when she filmed a video for the "Face" remix with Carey, an artist who knows a thing or two (hundred million) about that very topic. Other high-profile cameos would follow — most notably, her turn in Usher's "Lil Freak" video — but the march to the mainstream began with this candy-coated clip.
MTV Video Music Awards Pre-Show performance, September 12, 2010: Minaj chose an appropriately huge stage on which to make her solo TV debut — the 2010 VMA Pre-Show — and she made the most of it, dressing like a DayGlo cosmonaut (with a pink beehive) and teaming with the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am for a delightfully over-the-top take on "Check It Out." With her proper first album less than two months away, the VMAs served not only as a launching pad, but as a warning that big things were on the horizon.
Pink Friday debuts at #2, December 1, 2010: She couldn't quite make it to #1 (at least not yet) — after all, she had Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to contend with — but Minaj's runner-up bow wasn't a failure by any stretch. With sales of more than 375,000, Pink Friday posted the highest first-week numbers of any female MC since Lauryn Hill's classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill all the way back in 1998.
"Moment 4 Life" video premiere, January 27, 2011: With Pink Friday still riding high on the charts, Minaj gave it a charge with the premiere of her biggest, poppiest video to date: "Moment 4 Life," a gilded, glamorous fairy tale brought to life. Co-starring her Twitter beau Drake (and, of course, Minaj herself as a fairy godmother), it's pure pop bliss in every sense of the word. Not surprisingly, the song is her highest-charting top 40 track to date.
"Saturday Night Live" performance, January 30, 2011": As a New York native, Minaj called her "SNL" performance "monumental." As an artist making that final push toward crossover success, the gig was equally important. Not only did she wow audiences with her onstage actions, but her cameos in a pair of sketches — most notably, Digital Short "The Creep" with the Lonely Island — proved that she could provide the laughs too.
Pink Friday Finally Reaches #1, February 9, 2011: Building off that "SNL" success, in February — more than three months after it was first released — Pink Friday finally made it to #1 on the Billboard albums chart, and, in the process, cemented Minaj's status as a star with staying power. Up until landing the Britney tour, this remained Nicki's poppiest moment to date — though who knows what will happen when she hits the road with Ms. Spears?
What do you think of Nicki joining Britney on tour? Let us know in the comments!