The Aftermath Presents: 2011 Breakout Artist: Nicki Minaj

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Nicki Minaj's successes in 2011 aren't just great for a female rapper, or even a male rapper. They are good for any new artist.

Nicki took 2011 by storm with her music, out-of-the box video concepts, often outlandish costuming and hairstyles, and genius collaborations. Her debut album, "Pink Friday," released in November 2010 has sold more than 1.6 million copies, making it the third best selling hip-hop album of 2011, following Eminem's "Recovery" and Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV."

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Hip-hop experts discuss Nicki Minaj's breakout year:

Not only is Nicki Minaj nominated for a 2012 best new artist Grammy, she cleaned up at many of the year's award shows. She was named best female hip-hop artist at the BET Awards, won both of the rap categories at the American Music Awards, and took home the MVP and hip-hop style honors at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

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Aside from being a member of Lil Wayne's Young Money outfit, there were three things in particular that helped keep Nicki in the spotlight in 2011:


In the Cinderella-themed video released in January, Nicki had an opportunity to bring to life one of her many alter egos. Not only did she portray the lead character, who received her sparkling slippers, attended the ball, and found her prince charming (her flirtatious labelmate Drake), she also played the role of her fairy godmother. Hip-hop videos have become mundane, so this clip directed by Chris Robinson sets her apart.


By April, Nicki had been tapped to join Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour that opened in June. Considering Nicki's animated persona, upbeat songs, and colorful style of dress, hitting the road with the veteran pop princess was much more fitting than not. The trek that exposed Nicki to Spears' massive mainstream audience made more than $6,000,000 within its first 10 days on the road.


Nicki's deliberate pop song "Super Bass," co-written by Ester Dean, was seemingly an out of place album cut on "Pink Friday." But the Trinidadian artist and her team of music executives clearly knew what they were doing by including the song on the record. Country darling Taylor Swift was among the song's early fans. In January, Swift increased the awareness of the song when visiting a radio station. When the DJ asked her to make a request, she suggested the little known album track, and even rapped a portion of it a capella. The video of Swift talking about the song went viral. Soon, covers emerged from actress Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian's little sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner. As the popularity of the song grew organically, by April, Nicki released it as a single, and the video soon followed. The song reached No. 3 on the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart.

The Aftermath camera and video editing: Robert Gardner


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