The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop: Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj Reign Supreme
The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop: Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj Reign Supreme

You can call Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj label mates, mentor and protégée, or employer and employee. Or you can call them the top two R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of 2011.

Lil Wayne claims the No. 1 spot on the Artist ranking thanks to his No. 1 R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year, "Tha Carter IV," along with four No. 1s and 24 chart entries on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs during 2011. His place atop the yearly album ranking with "Tha Carter IV" marks the first time Weezy has topped that tally, having previously finishing as high as No. 2 with "Tha Carter III" in 2008, one spot behind Alicia Keys' "As I Am."

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If being honored as Billboard's Women in Music Rising Star last week wasn't enough to leave Nicki Minaj in a state of ecstasy, the results of Billboard's 2011 Year in Music recap will do the trick. The Barbie Doll finishes a close second to Wayne among Top Artists as the breakthrough success of her debut set "Pink Friday," a six-week No. 1 on Top R&B Albums, and six top 10s on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, including the No. 1 "Moment 4 Life," featuring Drake, raised her profile to the superstar level this year. She also finished second to Lil Wayne on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list as "Pink Friday" takes the No. 2 spot behind "Tha Carter IV."


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During her acceptance speech at Billboard's Women in Music event in New York City on December 2, Minaj commented on her tribulations with trying to earn her place as a top artist in a man's genre. That determination and gender-blind attitude paid off in 2011 as she is the No. 1 Rap Songs Artist of the year, beating out the likes of Lil Wayne, Drake and Kanye West. She is the first woman to earn the Top Rap Artist accolade since Missy Elliott took the crown in 2000. 11 years later, Nicki has successfully painted the rap crown pink in honor of the ladies.

Billboard's Year in Music results are based on chart performance covering the rankings dated Dec. 4, 2010 through Nov 26, 2011. The top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist categories rank the best performing acts within the year based on activity from the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, along with download track sales, touring ticket sales, ringtone sales and streaming.

Singer Miguel's "Sure Thing" tops the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, making this the second time in five years that a track from a debut album has topped the annual list. The prior single from a rookie set to do so was Robin Thicke's "Lost Without You," in 2007, from his album "The Evolution of Robin Thicke." Kelly Rowland grabbed her first top 10 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in four years and first No. 1 since 2002 with "Motivation."

Chris Brown defied naysayers and roared back in 2011, earning the honor of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Artist of the Year. He places two tracks in the top 10 on the yearly songs ranking, the eight-week No. 1"Look At Me Now," featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes at No. 3 and "She Ain't You" at No. 10. Both tracks appear on "F.A.M.E.," which debuted at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in April. Meanwhile, "Look," Brown's rap debut, ends up atop the year-end Rap Songs survey.

Wiz Khalifa wins the trophy for New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the year. His debut smash single "Black & Yellow" (No. 6 peak on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in February), was aided by its association with the Super Bowl championship run of the similarly attired Pittsburgh Steelers. He followed that with eight other charting tracks.