It's getting increasingly difficult to think of
Though it may seem unfair to some that she is even nominated, Nicki's accelerated artistic growth makes her a heavy favorite in the Best New Artist category at the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.
When weighted against other Best New noms like the Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole and Skrillex, Nicki's path is a unique one. She started out an MC but grew into so much more under the direction of YM head honcho Lil Wayne. When Weezy first discovered Minaj rapping on a street DVD, she was as cocksure and combative as any of her male counterparts, but after signing with Young Money, Nicki used the platform to amplify the natural performance talents that existed within. There were glimpses on her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty, but it wasn't until the Harajuku Barbie dropped her debut, Pink Friday, in November 2010 that her full potential was unleashed, when she displayed her passion for both rapping and singing.
Yes, technically her debut album was released in the 2010 calendar year, but the Grammy calendar does leave wiggle room and make her eligible for the Best New Artist nomination. The Queens, New York, rap star didn't start out the gate as hot as some speculated, but she did snag the #1 album spot on the Billboard charts in her 11th week. In October 2010, Minaj set a record for having the most singles on the Hot 100, notching seven songs at the same time. "Your Love," "Right Thru Me" and the Drake-featuring "Moment 4 Life" all made significant radio impact, but it was "Super Bass" that proved to be her biggest and most inescapable hit.
Nicki, with the help of alter ego Roman, has emerged as a strong visual artist as well through her "Moment 4 Life" video and the super colorful "Super Bass." The rap rook has also toured with Britney Spears and Lil Wayne.
It's also important to note that Nicki's prowess in the studio has led her to be a ubiquitous figure in pop culture. She has had a Barbie doll made in her likeness, inked a deal for her own nail polish with OPI, became the face of MAC's 2012 Viva Glam campaign and has either appeared on the covers or shot for too many glamour magazines to name.
Yes, Nicki Minaj does seem to be a lock for Best New Artist, but then again, this is the Grammys and no one ever thought Esperanza Spalding would beat out pop icon Justin Bieber. So maybe the Band Perry have a shot after all.
Chaos! Profanity! Wardrobe malfunctions! Don't miss our Grammy red-carpet live stream this Sunday, February 12, for a full three hours of mayhem, starting at 5 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And the fun doesn't end Sunday: MTV News has you covered for all the Grammy red-carpet fashion, Grammy winners and Grammy news until the hangover wears off!