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Rising inside the Ranks: Nicki Minaj went from working at Red Lobster just before being the scorching present face of feminine hip-hop in fewer point in time than it takes to go to college. She's as much an iconic figure for her standout fashion and attractiveness as she is for tearing up the mic alongside your favorite MCs. Her extreme following has bought into Minaj's complete package. The hype is backed by true talent, and she's unique and feisty. And even as every picture you see in the press personifies her glamorous life as a Young Money superstar, Minaj is no different from every other MC who has ascended the heights of their genre. The native of New York's Jamaica, Queens, neighborhood started at the bottom and had to grind her way to the top.

First discovered by means of Lil Wayne on the street-DVD string On the Come Up, Nicki couldn't acquire any love from DJs in her hometown, so she moved to Atlanta. It was there she recorded some verses for Weezy's Gangsta Grillz: Dedication 3 mixtape - singing and rapping on songs such as "Still I Rise" with the rest of Wayne's then-mostly indefinite crop of new-fangled talent, including Drake. Nicki also aligned herself with Gucci Mane, totaling a great deal to her street credibility and profile.

While her sexy figure was our first inkling of Nicki (who can forget that bathing-suit photo in which she paid deference to Lil' Kim?), Minaj actually found her own lane during the spring of last year with the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, which she put in concert with Atlanta's DJ Holiday. Nick showed us she has boundless personality on the mic, bringing forth her Barbie guise and all the charismatic outfits, rhyme flows and verbal inflections that go along with it. Records from the tape - "Kill the DJ," "I Get Crazy" with Lil Wayne and "Itty Bitty Piggy" - bubbled on the streets for months, allowing Nicki to hit the club circuit with her own shows.

In the summer of last year, Nick was spotlighted on the Young Money Presents: The America's Most Wanted Music Festival, and by the fall, seemingly all the guys in music hunted to get with her. Minaj's vocation went to the next level when she started spinning in show-stealing cameos, which have carried well into this year. Diddy, Robin Thicke, Ludacris, Sean Garrett, Usher, Jadakiss, Trey Songz, Gucci Mane, Sean Kingston and, of course, her Young Money relations all know that she's developed into one of the most flexible performers in hip-hop - and she still hasn't released her debut album, which is due late this year.

Early Insight: "With [my debut] album, I think it's more imperative that citizens get accustomed to seeing a feminine rapper again," Nicki said. "People don't even know what a female rapper does. We're so not used to seeing it. We don't acquire nominated. I need to work [the people] up to accepting a female rapper again and accepting my style and all of that - then the album will come."

Blistering Ballistics: " Now every these bitches wanna try and be my bestie/ But I take a left and leave 'em hangin' like a teste/ Trash talk to 'em, then I put 'em in a Hefty/ Runnin' down the court/ I'm dunkin' on 'em, Lisa Leslie/ It's goin' down, basement/ 'Friday the 13th,' guess who's playin' Jason?/ Tuck yourself in, you better hold on to ya teddy/ It's 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' and guess who's playin' Freddy?" - as of Ludacris' "My Chick Bad"

Forecast: Nicki, who is and a associate of the Diddy-led all-star Dream Team, didn't get an overwhelming response for her introduction official single, "Massive Attack," other than the misstep did nothing to hurt her popularity. Her follow-up, "Your Love," is already a #1 hit (with no video yet!). It was a leaked track that the fans treasured so much, program directors on radio were forced to add it. Minaj is working on her yet-untitled first album with Young Money and Swizz Beatz. If she continues to attack her own tracks with the fervor she does on her guest appearances, the LP should be a hands-down winner.