By Brittany Hutson
These days, one name that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the world of hip-hop is Nicki Minaj. Whether you hate her or you love her, the Harajuku Barbie has taken the music industry by storm and there’s no inclination that she plans to let up anytime soon.
On Monday, she hopes to pull a ‘massive attack’ on the Billboard charts when her debut album, Pink Friday, drops. She will have some heavy competition since Kanye West is releasing his fifth and highly anticipated “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” on the same day, as well as Jay-Z’s Hits Collection Vol. 1. Being that Minaj has made her mark this year doing collaborations with just about every prime player in the industry, will she fall short when she has to take the lead on her debut?
“Between her strong guest appearances and ability to make pop crossover records, anticipation is high,” said Jermaine Hall, Editor-in-Chief of Vibe Magazine. “She was able to claim the best verse on a song (Monster) featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West. That’s no small feat for any rapper—male or female.”
Her featured songs have certainly been racking up big numbers on Billboard’s digital songs chart—For “Bottoms Up” with Trey Songz, 1.2 million units have sold; 1.3 million units have sold with Ludacris on “My Chick Bad.” But some critics believe we’ve already seen the best of Minaj.
Minaj is hit-or-miss, according to The Village Voice writer Zach Baron. He writes that she is a “master at stealing the show” as she did on “Monster,” but when it comes to her own songs, such as “Check It Out” with Will.I.Am, the record “seems to have already vanished without a trace.” When her hit single “Your Love” appeared on the charts, it only did 27,000 in the first week. However, in week two, sales were at 55,000, an increase of 102%.
The last time a female rapper’s album made an appearance on the charts was in May when Trina released “Amazing.” It landed at number 13, though it only sold 32,000 copies in its first week. While first week sales aren’t what they used to be, according to Keith Caulfield of Billboard, industry sources are projecting that Pink Friday could sell 200,000-300,000 copies in its first week. But Caulfield adds that it is hard to predict how a female rapper will sell since none are selling anymore.
Minaj is fully aware of the impact that her debut could have on the female rap game. She’s acknowledged that if her project does not do well that her label will not look to signing other female rappers. Over the years, people have discussed the disappearing act of female MCs, concluding that it would take someone of a new breed to turn the plight of the female rapper around. For now, it seems that Minaj is that new breed. Not only has she placed seven songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 within a year (four of which were on the charts all within the same week, according to Billboard, making her the first female rapper to accomplish such a feat), but her work ethic, charisma and quirkiness has garnered much attention.
“She is holding the torch at the moment and she’s re-ignited the female MC conversation,” said Hall. “Her sales performance will show labels that they should be in the business of female MCs.”
First Week Debut Album Numbers from Female Rappers:
Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold 422,000
Missy Elliott’s Supa Dupa Fly sold 129,000
Foxy Brown’s Ill Na Na sold 109,000
Eve’s Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady sold 213,000
Lil Kim’s Hard Core sold 78,000
Trina’s Da Baddest B**** sold 30,000