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. This was a huge breakout year for Minaj, who might be the best thing going in hip-hop. But the emergence of “Super Bass” as a global pop hit 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 going into 2012. Minaj’s sophomore album, “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” is due on Valentine’s Day. Keep your eyes peeled for a rumored Super Bowl cameo during Madonna's halftime performance.—Jeff Royer
(Photo: Isaac Brekken, Getty Images)
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