Nicki Minaj has been named Billboard's "Rising Star" for 2011, capping off a year that has seen the hip-hop star top the charts with her massive-selling "Pink Friday" album and, most recently, earn a pair of trophies at the American Music Awards. The Rising Star Award acknowledges Minaj's phenomenal year and will be presented at the Billboard Women in Music Event on Dec. 2 in New York City.
Minaj will be joined at the sixth annual event by Billboard Woman of the Year Taylor Swift, her friend and an early booster through radio interviews and a widely seen concert cameo.
"I am deeply honored to be recognized by Billboard," says Minaj. "My nation of barbz and I have come a mighty long way; yet we are nowhere close to where God will take us. Sit back and enjoy the ride."
She cemented her status as the breakout star of the year early on, when "Pink Friday" helped her become the first female rapper in a decade to top the Billboard 200. Her mega-single, "Super Bass," became a viral sensation and the song reached No. 3 on the Hot 100. The debut album has gone on to sell 1.6 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The 28-year-old star, born Onika Tanya Maraj, began releasing mix-tapes in 2007 and later signed with Young Money Entertainment, a label founded by Lil Wayne. She rapped a solo verse on the 2010 hit "BedRock," which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.
"Pink Friday," released in November 2010, has yielded eight singles so far, including "Your Love," "Moment 4 Life" and "Super Bass," which is actually a bonus track on a deluxe edition of the album.
In being named Billboard's Rising Star, Minaj follows in the footsteps ofJazmine Sullivan (2010), Lady Gaga (2009), and Colbie Caillat, who in 2008 was the first artist ever to be given this honor.
"Nicki Minaj has established herself as a force in hip-hop and pop music, and we're thrilled to recognize her accomplishments over the past year by honoring her as this year's Rising Star," says Bill Werde, Billboard's Editorial Director. "Her unique style and powerful sound will undoubtedly lead to a long and lustrous career, and we look forward to seeing where she goes and what she does next."
Billboard's annual Women in Music Event, presented by Crest 3D White and Target, celebrates the most powerful and talented women in the music business, coinciding with the publication of Billboard's Women in Music Power Players list. This year's event, the sixth of its kind, will be taking place on Friday, Dec. 2 at Capitale in New York City.