Nicki Minaj comes in at #5 on MTV’s T.R.U. Life: The REAL 10 Hottest MCs in the Game. She arrived at a moment when Young Money’s rising stars were cutting Lil Wayne’s slowly fizzling persona in half. Weezy’s singing emotive oddball side was possessed by Drake. The absurdist, endlessly creative WTF-generating rapper half usurped by Nicki. Since then, she’s moved on. The right way to look at her brash embrace of pure pop balladry and EDM –away from mixtape cut-obsessed straight spittin’-style rap, much to the chagrin of Peter Rosenberg and other tedious “real hip-hop” types — is that well, rappin’ ass rappin’ just got boring for her. She figured out the formula. Just listen to the way Nicki casually schools Rick Ross, Cam’ron, Drake, and others on Pink Friday 2: Roman Reloaded. The highlights of the first half of that album are the ridiculous explosions of personality like “Come on a Cone.” On the second half of Roman Reloaded, you hear a serious MC with the lofty goal to deliver rhymes to pop radio, and bust up hip-hop’s rigid “lyrical” confines. Even Nicki’s verses on her brash, maximalist work like “Starships” or “Pound the Alarm” are just as vibrant and ornate. The recent manic appearance on French Montana’s “Freaks” recalls the charmingly vulgar Nicki of a few years past and shows that she can still steal a song (and a spotlight) like it ain’t no thing. B.S.