Birth name: Onika Tanya Maraj
Birthplace: Saint James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Years Active: 2004 – Present
Born in Trinidad and Tobago to parents who both sang Gospel music, rapper and actress Nicki Minaj is of African and Indian descent. At age five, Onika Maraj and her siblings emigrated to New York City to join her mother in the borough of Queens, where she would grow up. Maraj attended LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, where she majored in drama. In an interview, Minaj said that LaGuardia was the first place where she felt that she fit in because she was surrounded by creatives.
Her career as a rapper took off in the 2000s, after one of the mixtapes she released on the social media platform MySpace caught the attention of Dirty Money Entertainment. Dirty Money released Minaj’s 2007 debut mixtape, Playtime is Over. Minaj then released two more mixtapes, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty in 2008 and 2009, respectively. In August 2009, Lil Wayne signed Minaj to his label Young Money Entertainment, making her the first female artist on the label’s roster.
After collaborations with Gucci Mane, Lil’ Kim and Lil Wayne, Minaj released Pink Friday in November, 2010. With Pink Friday, she departured from a rap flow reminiscent of Foxy Brown and Jay-Z (Brooklyn rappers she names as influences), and began to develop a popstar persona. Minaj’s commercial success came as a result of a number of hit singles from Pink Friday, including “Your Love,” which peaked at the number fourteen spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted at number one on the Billboard Rap Songs Chart. Pink Friday would sell a million copies in less than a month and reach number one in February 2011. Pink Friday was followed by 2012’s by Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, 2014’s The Pinkprint, and 2018’s Queen.
While Nicki Minaj’s albums sell well, her career is built on breakthrough singles, and collaborations with the megastars such as DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross, Beyoncé,Cam’ron, 2 Chainz, Nas, Young Jeezy, Drake, Madonna, Jessie Ware, Ariana Grande, Meek Mill, Skylar Grey, Eminem, The Weeknd, Trey Songz, LunchMoney Lewis, Jessie J, Rihanna, Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug, Future, David Guetta, Ciara, Justin Bieber, Jeremih, and Ludacris. Minaj’s verse on “Monster”, a single from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy fifth album has been described by some critics as iconic.
Minaj is also known for her alter egos, complete with wigs, costumes and comic accents, Nicki Minaj’s alter-egos include Harajuku Barbie and Roman Zolanski, a diabolical twin brother who emerges when Minaj is angry. As an actor, her film credits include roles in Barbershop: The Next Cut and voicing characters in the blockbuster Ice Age: Continental Drip, as well the animated television series, The Cleveland Show and Steven Universe. In 2013, Nicki Minaj was a judge on American Idol.
In 2018, Minaj’s 76th hit single appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and she now holds the Guinness World Record for the Most entries by a solo artist (female) having broken the record previously held by Aretha Franklin.