The big breakthrough for Minaj came when Wayne added his rhymes to her "High as a Kite" single, a mixtape favorite in 2008. The year 2009 would see more guest appearances and mixtapes, including the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, featuring the street single "I Get Crazy." In 2010, the singles "Your Love" and "Check It Out" preceded the release of her official debut album, Pink Friday, which debuted that November at number two on the Billboard 200 and went platinum. She earned a handful of 2011 Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. An all-out media blitz followed between albums with extravagant performances at award shows across the globe, an appearance as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, and joining Madonna -- alongside M.I.A. -- for her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.
In early 2012, the Eurodance-influenced single "Starships" signaled the coming of her official sophomore effort, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, an album built around her devil-may-care alter ego "Roman Zolanski." Guest artists included Nas, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, and Beenie Man, while production came from the likes of RedOne, Dr. Luke, and Ke'Noe. The album hit number one on the U.S. album charts, driven by a Top Ten showing for "Starships." "Pound the Alarm" and "Va Va Voom" also reached the Top 40. By the end of 2012, Minaj had been announced as a judge for the 12th season of American Idol, although she left at the end of the season. It hardly affected her success, as she set two career records during 2013: most-charted female rapper in the history of Billboard's singles chart, and the first person to win Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards four times in a row. She then announced her third studio album, The Pinkprint, which appeared at the end of 2014. First single "Lookin Ass" was also featured on the Young Money compilation Rise of an Empire, released in March of that year, while follow-up "Anaconda" was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Filled with songs about guilt and failed relationships, the album was well-received by critics and debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. ~ David Jeffries