29 Black Music Milestones: Nicki Minaj Puts Female Rap Back On the Map

Music's 10 Sexiest Women 2012

9. Nicki Minaj (1.85% of the vote)

In honor of Black History Month, Billboard.com is paying tribute to the many contributions Black musicians have made throughout the years. From the opening of The Apollo Theatre to Beyoncé's presidential serenade , we're presenting a list of 29 black music milestones to pay homage to some of the artists that have made music what it is today.

Hip-hop hasn't been the same since Nicki Minaj walked through the doors. During a time of slim choosings -- including the hiatuses of Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, and Lauryn Hill, along with the passing of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes -- Nicki Minaj picked up the torch and put the female rap game back on the map.

In just two years (2010-2012), the underground rapper became a No. 1 superstar. Impressed by her mixtape hustle, Lil Wayne, quckly signed Nicki Minaj to Young Money. The rapstress stood tall on superstar artists' tracks, such as Diddy-Dirty Money's "Hello Good Morning (Remix)" and Kanye West's "Monster," even before releasing her debut album, "Pink Friday."

"Pink Friday," released in November 2010, continues to break records. Minaj is the first female rapper to chart three titles concurrently, for five weeks, in R&B/Hip-Hop Songs' top 10. Among women, Ashanti had previously tripled up in the top tier, for two weeks in 2002, since the chart adopted Nielsen date in 1992.

In only two years, Minaj has charted 26 songs on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. She comes in second to Missy Elliott who has gained 36 in over the span of 15 years (1997 to present).

Nicki Minaj has garnered countless awards, including two American Music Awards, MTV Awards, and Billboard's own "Rising Star" Women In Music Award. Minaj has shared the stage with stars as well as holding her own. She recently performed at the 2012 Super Bowl XLVI halftime show alongside Madonna and M.I.A. and left mouths open (and in many cases, confused) with her performance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.

There's no stopping Nicki as she prepares to release her sophomore album, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," on April 3.

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