8. Nicki Minaj
The Lady Gaga of hip-hop, Nicki Minaj is a huge talent alternately enhanced and obscured by her own absurd artistic vision. 2011 was a huge breakout year for Minaj, who might be the best thing going in hip-hop. But the emergence of “Super Bass” and "Starships" as global pop hits increased her stock dramatically in the pop world, catapulting the wigged wonder from Lil Wayne’s weird lil protégé to one of music’s bright spots in 2012.—Jeff Royer
(Photo: Isaac Brekken, Getty Images)
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