Nicki Minaj debuted in 2007 with a mixtape called Playtime Is Over. She wasn’t kidding: From her kooky alter-egos to her wildly outspoken Queen Radio show on Apple Music, Minaj -- the first and only woman to score 100 appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 -- has redefined success for women in hip-hop this decade. Yet Billboard’s inaugural Game-Changer isn’t done yet. “I’m a perfectionist and love topping myself,” says Minaj, 37, “so as long as I love music, I’ll always be doing that.”
How do you think you have changed the game?
I had an approach that had a lot of different layers. I first got the underground market and my hometown [on lock]. Then I gradually worked my way up. One of the things that I used [to my advantage] was my ability to switch my flow and be entertaining on a track. And even before I was doing music, I loved looking at magazines to see who was setting trends.