Was it really just a little more than two years ago that Nicki Minaj made her Billboard chart debut? With so many hits racked up in such little time, it certainly seems like she's been killing it on our tallies longer than that.
Minaj made her Billboard chart bow on Aug. 29, 2009, entering at No. 8 on the Bubbling Under Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "I Get Crazy." The track, which featured her Young Money label founder Lil Wayne, eventually topped out at No. 37 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list on Jan. 23, 2010.
Since then, it's been nothing but a blur of dizzying chart highs for the leading lady of hip-hop. She's racked up 27 Billboard Hot 100 singles (at press time) and nine top 10 singles on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "Moment 4 Life" became her first chart-topper on either list, spending five weeks lodged in the top slot of the R&B/hip-hop tally in February.
Her debut studio album, "Pink Friday," arrived Nov. 23, 2010, and flew in straight at No. 2 on both Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the Billboard 200, selling 375,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That marked the second-best sales week for a female hip-hop artist since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. Only Lauryn Hill did better, when "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" started at No. 1 with 423,000 in 1998.
While "Pink Friday" didn't hit No. 1 out of the gate, six weeks later it rose to the apex of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. A month after that, it ascended to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Minaj's patient wait for her turn at No. 1 on the latter chart was a rare sight. For the most part, an album is only No. 1 on the Billboard 200 because it debuted there. It's unusual for an album to climb to the top.
Case in point: In 2010, there were 30 albums that hit No. 1, but only one -- Lil Wayne's "I Am Not a Human Being" -- rose to the top. Wayne debuted at No. 2 on the strength of download sales, then fell to No. 16 the next week, only to reach No. 1 the following week once the CD version of the album was released.
Before "Pink Friday's" ascent to the top, the last album to take longer to rise to No. 1 was Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company," which hit No. 1 in its 25th week on March 5, 2005. It zoomed 15-1 with 224,000 copies sold (up 202%) following its Grammy Award win for album of the year.
"Pink Friday's" climb to No. 1 on the Feb. 19 Billboard 200 coincided with the burgeoning popularity of its single "Super Bass," which had then become a viral phenomenon. Videos of Minaj fans Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez rapping "Super Bass" had appeared on YouTube. The same week "Pink Friday" hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, "Bass" debuted on both the R&B Digital Songs and Rap Digital Songs charts. A week later, it entered the Bubbling Under Hot 100 tally.
Yet "Super Bass" wasn't even a proper single. Clearly, labels Young Money/Cash Money knew they had a hit, and in turn, an eye-popping, hyper-colorful video for "Bass" was produced. The clip debuted on Vevo and YouTube on May 5. A little more than a week later, the song arrived on the Hot 100 on May 14.
Now an official single, "Super Bass" climbed to No. 3 on the Hot 100 on Aug. 13. With its rise, it became the highest-charting Hot 100 rap hit by a solo female (without a featured artist) since Missy Elliott's "Work It" reached No. 2 in 2002. "Work" spent 10 straight weeks in the runner-up slot. "Bass" was also just the eighth rap single by a solo female to reach the top 10 in the chart's 53-year history.
"Super Bass" was one of eight top 40 Hot 100 hits that Minaj racked up in 2011. In addition to her "Bass" hit, she scored with her own "Moment 4 Life" (featuring Drake) and "Fly" (featuring Rihanna), and as a featured artist on David Guetta's "Where Them Girls At" (also featuring Flo Rida) and "Turn Me On," Drake's "Make Me Proud" and Big Sean's "Dance (A$$)." Minaj also appeared on the popular Femme Fatale Remix of Britney Spears' No. 3 Hot 100 hit "Till the World Ends."