Earlier this year, Nicki Minaj made headlines when it was revealed that she broke Aretha Franklin's record for most Billboard Hot 100 singles by a woman. To be sure, it was a singular accomplishment, even for someone of Nicki's stature. At the same time, that distinguishing achievement fits right in with a host of others for the Queens native, who's made transcendence the norm during her illustrious career. It's a tradition she's maintained since the very beginning.

With the technical wizardry of a lyricist, the hit-making ability of a pop star and the imagination of someone looking to conquer the world, Nicki Minaj hit the ground running with her debut album, Pink Friday. Released in the fall of 2010, the project moved 375,000 units in its first week. It went platinum before year's end.

Since then, Nicki's star has continued to shine brilliantly, as her subsequent albums, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and The Pinkprint, both went double-platinum. Her tours have grossed over $50 million combined, she's appeared in movies, and she was even a co-host on American Idol. Not bad, right?

With the seeming immediacy of her success and her arrival as fully formed superstar, Nicki never truly appeared to be a rap game rookie—and that's why she didn't end up on the cover of the 2010 XXL Freshman class. That's a point that gets made in Nicki's new Fall 2017 cover story, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten. Instead of being a Freshman, she popped up on a cover with Drake, her Young Money compatriot, the following month.

"XXL has had a major role," says Nicki in our 20th Anniversary issue. "They’ve always done the Freshman covers. I mean, Drake and I weren’t on the Freshman cover, but they then gave us our own cover. I see how young rappers aspired to be on those covers. So, I feel like it gave new rappers hope. And for older rappers, it’s exciting to get the call. 'Hey, could you be on the cover of the magazine this month?' or 'We wanna do a story on you.' I think that makes every artist, whether it’s rap, or it’s singing, or whatever, it just makes you feel proud of yourself. XXL has always stayed super credible [and] that’s been a great thing."

Nicki Minaj is just one of the artists selected to appear on XXL's 20 special edition covers. Like the rap game queen, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along with away. Her fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; T.I., rap’s gangsta and gentleman; Fabolous, a highly respected New York MC; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Run The Jewels, partners in rhyme and reason; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; Tech N9ne; an independent icon; E-40; hip-hop’s in-the-know uncle; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.

Check out Nicki Minaj's full Fall 2017 cover story here, watch his interview video below and keep it locked to our exclusive 20th anniversary hub for more content coming in honor of XXL's 20th anniversary.

Watch Nicki Minaj Discuss Her Unique Role in Hip-Hop

Travis Shinn for XXL
Travis Shinn for XXL

See All XXL Magazine 20th Anniversary Covers

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