Nicki Minaj's 20 Best Features: Staff Picks

After 107 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, spanning nearly the entirety of the 2010s, rap and pop icon Nicki Minaj finally got to the Hot 100’s pinnacle for the first tie this week, with her feature appearance on the remix to ascendant star Doja Cat’s breezy disco-rap banger, “Say So.”

Though it’s Minaj’s first time topping the chart in a featured capacity, it’s very far from her first appearance on the chart as such — over the last decade, she’s been one of popular music’s most reliable guest performers, notching dozens upon dozens of chart hits as a supporting presence on other artists’ singles. Here are our 20 favorites.

20. Diddy – Dirty Money, “Hello Good Morning” (Remix) (2010)

Before Minaj became a features savant, she was a rebellious MC eager to flatten the competition. On Dirty Money’s “Hello Good Morning (Remix),” Minaj’s show-stealing verse doesn’t only ooze with swagger, but is draped in Alexander McQueen, and “billion-dollar credit.” Lyrically, Minaj goes on a demolition derby, sweeping past show promoters who can’t book her out the country or cough up six figures for an appearance (“I ain’t coming out for 100 thou”). — CARL LAMARRE

19. Jay Sean “2012 (It Ain’t the End)” (2010)

In 2010, with the supposed apocalypse rapidly approaching in December 2012 (simpler times!), Jay Sean tapped Cash Money labelmate Nicki Minaj in an effort to turn frenzy into festivity. The song fared much better than the John Cusack-starring film about the same topic, thanks in large part to its dance-pop chorus and a well-timed rap verse from Minaj that both balances the track and boasts about her versatility: “[If I] wasn’t a rapper then I could’ve got a pop deal.” — JOSH GLICKSMAN

18. Katy Perry, “Swish Swish” (2017)

The clear high-point of Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” is Minaj’s generous journey of a verse: bursting out the gate with some signature shade over a throbbing club beat, Minaj dips into a lower register to sing the word “despise” with a lung-rattling intensity before ramping back up to deliver the final K.O. With a No. 46 Hot 100 peak, it might not have been the smash they intended, but when Minaj spits “I only rock with queens, so I’m makin’ hits with Katy,” you wonder how it wasn’t. — JOE LYNCH

17. Meek Mill, “All Eyes on You” (2015)

Once upon a time, Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj were a premier power couple in rap. Meek’s 2015 single “All Eyez on You”  encapsulated the fire-and-ice dynamic between both MCs. Meek’s street edge mixed with Minaj’s vivacious charm proved to be the perfect union on this radio heater. As both stars channeled the spirit of Biggie from “Notorious Thugs” for their relationship anthem, Minaj outclassed her ex-beau with her slick wordplay and sleek delivery. — C.L.

16. Rihanna, “Raining Men” (2010)

It should tell you something about what a blockbuster Rihanna’s Loud was that this Nicki collab never even really got a full single push. But the song is pure fun, viewing the titular precipitation as more of a shrug-worthy fact of life than the hallelujah-worthy blessing of its classic Weather Girls predecessor. Still, the disco group does (sort of) get a shoutout in Nicki’s side-splitting verse: “Laid down on the beach they be feeding me my catfishes/ ‘Cause it’s raining men — fat b–ches!” — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

15. Doja Cat, “Say So” (Remix) (2020)

Nicki Minaj’s first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 comes via her guest spot on Doja Cat’s summery, ebullient “Say So,” which Onika’s winning wordplay helped propel to the top slot. Sure, “Used to be bi, now I’m just hetero” might not be the shout-out the LGBTQ community needs in the midst of the T***p administration, but her unperturbed self-assurance as she watches the world take shots at her (“I got dressed just to sit in the house/ People with the least always doin’ the most”) makes it 99% likely she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about that line anyway. — J. Lynch

14. Drake, “Make Me Proud” (2011)

Take Care, Drake’s second studio album, is not an upbeat affair, but leave it to Nicki Minaj to help temporarily relieve it from its brooding nighttime pursuits with an energetic, a cappella-opening attack on “Make Me Proud.” Following plugs for her riches and her multi-pronged business ventures, Minaj dreamily imagines giving it all up — before coming back to Earth and closing out her verse with one of her most memorable defensive plays: “Double-D up, h–s, Dolly Parton.” — CHRISTINE WERTHMAN

13. Yo Gotti, “Down in the DM” (Remix) (2016)

Yo Gotti’s ode to the social media hookup, already a smash in its own right, was taken next-level months after its release by a Nicki Minaj remix. No other guest rapper could weave an impossibly lewd sexual play-by-play with references to Kylie and Miley — including her own feud with the latter — in the space of two lines like Minaj. (“She threw this line in there, I was like, ‘Oh s–t,'” Yo Gotti told Genius.) The song reached No. 13 on the Hot 100, and the two MCs would repeat the formula again the next year, to even greater success. — A.U.

12. 2 Chainz, “I Luv Dem Strippers” (2012)

In 2012, 2 Chainz was one of rap’s most reliable assists – so naturally he’d turn to another guest verse MVP for his studio debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story. “I Luv Dem Strippers” is fairly self-explanatory, but Her Minajesty proves effortlessly boss and domineering in the strip bar, dropping brilliant wordplay (“B–ches, stay pressed, I call them a space bar”) and cracking the hell up at her own The Little Engine That Could reference at the song’s close. — J. Lynch

11. Lil Wayne, “Knockout” (2009)

This frizzy, frenetic single off Lil Wayne’s 2009 rap-rock album Rebirth might have been forgettable if not for Nicki’s raunchy, energy-packed bars, including one of her greatest openers yet: “Aw, f–k it! Give me that d–n bucket / When I throw this p–sy you better not start duckin’.” Nicki’s ability to seamlessly shuffle between vocal styles is on full display here, too — she first comes in on the song’s coy hook, where her soft, cooing vocals take the edge off of Wayne’s raspy verses and attempts at screamo. — TATIANA CIRISANO

10. Usher, “Lil Freak” (2010)

Released when he was still one of the biggest (and sleaziest) pop stars in the world, Usher Raymond’s lecherous “Lil Freak” demanded an A effort from its guest rapper — and Nicki Minaj had absolutely no problem running away with the thing. A decade before Minaj disavowed her bisexuality on record, she was very up for helping her co-star seek the “menage à” he sought, with typically pop culture-spanning elan: “The girls wanna Minaj, yeah, they wetter than a rain man/ Usher, buzz me in, everybody loves Raymond!” — A.U.

9. Drake, “Up All Night” (2010)

Drake and Nicki Minaj’s rocky friendship has had plenty of ups and downs. When things were going good, it showed in the music, especially on the collaboration front. Though Drake’s 2010 debut Thank Me Later was smothered with glitzy radio singles, “Up All Night” slithered up the ranks as an album standout due to the duo’s chemistry. Minaj plays bully-ball, stiff-arming those tempted to rattle the Young Money teammates with her not-so-humble brags (“Which b–ch you know made a millie off a mixtape?”).  — C.L.

8. David Guetta, “Turn Me On” (2011)

Minaj might regret making “Starships,” but that doesn’t mean her early-decade pop/EDM crossover efforts weren’t hugely successful. Like “Starships,” “Turn Me On” thrives in a building pre-chorus followed by an exploding dance hook. The song excels because hitmaker David Guetta allows Minaj’s vocal to guide the track’s thumping bass, rather than the other way around. And don’t forget about the music video, which weirdly seems to predict the plot to Westworld, nearly five years before the HBO show started its violent delights. — J.G.

7. Rae Sremmurd, “Throw Sum Mo” (2014)

Amidst the exaltations of no flex zones, aggressive stunting on exes and regrettable Donald Trump similes, Rae Sremmurd’s 2015 debut album SremmLife contains one female voice, and Minaj uses her unique position to eye-roll the onslaught of masculinity and collect her cash. “You just got cash? Blow some mo’,” she demands, once again playing the role of man-hypnotizer and giving “Throw Sum Mo” its irresistible hook. — JASON LIPSHUTZ

6. Yo Gotti, “Rake It Up” (2017)

After assisting Yo Gotti with a top 20 hit on 2015’s “Down in the DM,” Minaj helped the rap vet soar even higher two years later with “Rake It Up,” a no-nonsense strip club anthem that allows Nicki to flaunt her sex appeal and fire off a Bell Biv Devoe reference she had undoubtedly been saving her in her chamber (“Never trust a big butt and a smile, word to Ronnie,” she declares as the beat drops out). “Rake It Up” doesn’t become a smash, and Yo Gotti doesn’t notch the first top 10 hit of his career, without a typically animated feature from Minaj. — J. Lipshutz

5. Ariana Grande, “Side to Side” (2016)

Grande’s cheeky 2016 single “Side to Side” is as memorable for its dancehall-flavored melody and spin class-inspired music video as it is for that moment when the internet realized what it’s really about. But Nicki has never been one for euphemisms, and we love her for it. She gets down to business in her clever third verse — sample lyric: “If you wanna menage, I got a tricycle” — while meeting the song’s reggae beat with a slick, laid-back delivery. Bonus points for her short-and-sweet kiss-off: “I’m the queen of rap, young Ariana run pop.” — T.C.

4. Big Sean, “Dance (A$$)” (Remix) (2011)

Big Sean’s third single off debut LP Finally Famous was an unapologetically goofy Hammer-sampling banger whose primary goal seems to be breaking the record for most mentions of the titular body part in a hit single. But it was elevated by a peak Nicki Minaj verse on the remix that actually got it within shouting distance of classic territory, with Nicki convincingly declaring, “Bad b–ches, I’m your leader,” stretching the last syllable of “Waikiki” to endurance-testing lengths, and delivering the unforgettable kiss-off: “You f–kin’ little wh–es, f–kin’ up my decors/ Couldn’t get Michael Kors if you was f–kin’ Michael Kors.” — A.U.

3. Trey Songz, “Bottoms Up” (2010)

When Trey Songz invited Nicki Minaj to throw a verse on his 2010 song “Bottoms Up,” she came with an entourage. In addition to classic rapidfire Nicki, she brought along her alter-egos Harajuku Barbie, the cutesy one, and Roman Zolanski, the unhinged one, for a 16-bar, off-the-wall performance. While Mr. Steal Yo Girl sounds like he’s sipping cognac in the club, Minaj seems like she’s been slugging energy drinks as she calls for “salt all around that rim, rim, rim, rim” one minute and her Louisville Slugger the next. She pumps the brakes for a Young Money shoutout and a bizarre, yet endearing, salute to Anna Nicole Smith. But then she hops on a rocket again on her last line, “Now bottoms up and double my dosage,” and leaves listeners blissfully whiplashed. — C.W.

2. Beyoncé, “Flawless” (Remix) (2014)

In August 2014, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj joined forces for the swaggering remix to “Flawless.” Serving as their first collaboration, Bey and Nicki are unflappable Black queens who wake up on the right side of the bed every morning. After Yoncé laughs off the infamous elevator incident between Solange and Jay-Z, a fierce Minaj looks for the knockout blow. Convincingly, Nicki detonates, with shattering one-liners about Michael Jackson (“Yo, like MJ doctor, they killing me”) and the country’s current first daughter (“Meet me at the Trump, Ivanka).” In the middle of her verse, she becomes a speed-demon, accelerating faster with each bar. Even as Nicki cranked up the pace, her punches remained on-target, proving why her pen-game remains a sacred weapon in rap. — C.L.

1. Kanye West’s “Monster” (2010)

It’s interesting to wonder if Nicki Minaj’s accolade-filled decade would’ve played out any differently had Kanye West decided to withhold her “Monster” verse from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. She’d already made her presence felt earlier in 2010 with features on “Bottoms Up” and “My Chick Bad,” but the “Monster” verse is in where were you when you first heard this? territory. A month after it dropped, she released her debut album Pink Friday, subsequently snagging her first No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and hasn’t looked back since.

It’s no easy feat to be the undeniable standout on a single from arguably the best album of the 2010s — let alone one that includes Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver on its billing — but Minaj makes it apparent that the game is hers for the taking: “You could be the king but watch the queen conquer.” Seamlessly pivoting between her Roman Zolanski and Barbie alter egos, on “Monster,” Minaj is both the rookie of the year and the league’s most valuable player. And whether it’s Adele, Demi Lovato or Millie Bobby Brown, it’s going to remain the verse that everyone wants a part of for decades still to come. — J.G.