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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Before even dropping her debut album, American rapper Nicki Minaj was the first female to be named on MTV's "hottest MC's list" of the past year, announced on Sunday.
The 25-year-old New York-based rapper, whose real name is Onika Tonya Maraj and who has been rising in stature in the hip hop world this year, came in at number six on the annual list which is in its fourth year.
Minaj, whose debut album "Pink Friday" is due to be released in November, was the first female rapper to ever make the list that was picked based on lyrical ability, flow, commercial success and cultural impact, MTV said.
After a dearth of U.S. female rappers in recent years, Minaj -- a protégé of Lil Wayne -- has gained buzz in the lead-up to her debut album and has evoked previous rappers such as Lil' Kim while carving out a powerful image of her own.
Rising Canadian rap star Drake told MTV News that Minaj was "one of, if not the most exciting rapper this year. Feature-wise, she's on tracks with heavyweights killing; not holding her own, but killing. She's controlling the radio."
Coming out on top of the list was Eminem, whose recent "Recovery" album was judged a return to form by critics and has sold nearly three million copies in the United States.
"We all love a great comeback story but it takes more than that to be called the #1 hottest MC," said Sean Lee of MTV News who served on the judges panel, noting Eminem's ability.
Jay-Z landed at number two on the list followed by Kanye West, who has a new album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Family" scheduled to be released in November.
Drake, 23, whose debut album "Thank me Later" produced the hit single "Find Your Love," was rated number four on the list followed by Miami-based rapper Rick Ross.
Rounding out the top ten was Lil Wayne at No. 6 followed by Waka Flocka Flame, B.o.B and Ludacris.
The results were aired on MTV2's "Hottest MC's In The Game" on Sunday.
"I wouldn't be surprised if she (Minaj) becomes a regular fixture on this list and opens the door for new generation of female MCs," said MTV News reporter Sway Calloway.
Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Jill Serjeant