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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 46. Nicki Minaj

Hip-hop royalty.

Since she burst on to the Billboard charts in 2009, the artist Nicki Minaj has been unstoppable. Last year, she became the first singer ever to have seven singles in the US Top 100 at the same time. Following in the steps of Missy Elliott to make headway in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, she is a trailblazer for a new generation of female rappers. She writes her own lyrics and has complained of a culture where "people assume that you're not the brains behind the operation" if you are a woman. Despite her penchant for body-con fashion, Minaj has criticised the expectation that women must be overtly sexy, saying she has made "a conscious decision to try to tone down the sexiness" - a refreshing attitude in an era where female artists are increasingly sexualised. With her series of lucrative marketing deals, including a lipstick for the cosmetics company Mac - showing he canny business sense - some US commentators are already suggesting she could be the next Oprah.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter