Onika Tanya Maraj (Hindi: ????? ?????? ?????; born December 8, 1982),[1] better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj (Hindi: ?????? ?????; pronounced /m??n???/), is a Trinidadian born American recording artist signed to Young Money Entertainment. She was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, but moved to the Queens borough of New York City at age five.

Minaj began her music career in 2007 after she released her first mixtape Playtime Is Over. The mixtape was followed by the mixtapes Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty which were released in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Minaj had her first label success after fellow American rapper, Lil Wayne discovered and secured a record deal with her with Young Money Entertainment with distribution from Universal Motown Records In August 2009.[2][3]

She released her debut album, Pink Friday in 2010 which became a commercial success, peaking at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200. and was later certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release.[4][5] She became the first artist ever to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.[6] Her second single, "Your Love", reached number-one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, making Minaj the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002, which was previously held by Missy Elliott's song Work It.[7] She also became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List.[8]

1 Early life
2 Music career
2.1 2007–09: Career beginnings, mixtapes and Young Money
2.2 2010–present: Breakthrough and Pink Friday
3 Musical style and image
3.1 Image
3.2 Alter egos
3.3 Influences
4 Personal life
5 Discography
6 Awards and nominations
7 References
8 External links

Early lifeMaraj was born in 1982[9][10] in Saint James,[11][12][13] (a suburb of Trinidad and Tobago's capital city Port of Spain). Her parents were of mixed Indian and Afro-Trinidadian ancestry[14][15] and she lived in Saint James with her grandmother until age five, because her parents were looking for a place to live in the Queens borough of New York City at the time. Her mother would occasionally visit, and one day, when Minaj was five, her mother picked her up to move to Queens.[10] According to Minaj, her father drank heavily, took drugs, and once tried to kill her mother by setting the house on fire.[16]

She attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet.[10] She graduated from LaGuardia High School.[17][18] At LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts, Minaj participated in the drama program.[17] She had initially planned to sing at LaGuardia, but lost her voice on the day of the audition.[17]

Music career2007–09: Career beginnings, mixtapes and Young MoneyNicki Minaj released her first mixtape in 2007 after releasing Playtime Is Over with Dirty Money Records. She later released another mixtape on July 7, 2008, titled Sucka Free, under the label of Be. On April 18, 2009, Minaj released a third mixtape and appeared in XXL magazine.[2] In 2008 she won the Female Artist of the Year award at the Underground Music Awards.[19] Minaj released Beam Me Up Scotty, another mixtape, in April 2009 under the label of Trapaholics Records. Beam Me Up Scotty received positive coverage on both BET and MTV.[20][21]

After Minaj signed a record deal with Young Money Entertainment, she had a solo rap verse in their single "BedRock". The song became a commercial success, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj also appeared on "Roger That", which charted at #56. The song, and in particular Minaj, received positive reviews from critics.[22] Both of these songs were included in Young Money Entertainment's debut collaborative studio album We Are Young Money, which was released in December 2009. The album charted in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 200, reaching #9 and later receiving a Gold Certification by the RIAA.

2010–present: Breakthrough and Pink FridayMain article: Pink Friday

Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj performing The Femme Fatale Remix of "Till the World Ends" in the Femme Fatale Tour.After a major record label bidding war, Young Money Entertainment announced on August 31, 2009 that Minaj had been released a 360 deal with the label in which she retains and owns all of her 360 rights – including merchandising, sponsorships, endorsements, touring and publishing.[23] In an interview with 95.8 Capital FM, Rihanna stated that after the two collaborated on "Raining Men" from her album Loud that the duo would be teaming up together for a possible second collaboration on Minaj's Pink Friday.[24] Hip-hop rap artist and producer Kanye West was also confirmed for the album.[25] On August 3, 2010 Minaj revealed on a Ustream.tv channel for her fans that the album's name would be Pink Friday stating, “To carry on a great tradition of Black Friday, we are going to switch it up this year in honor of the Nicki Minaj album and call that day Pink Friday, and call my album Pink Friday,!”[26] A deluxe edition of the album was also released after the standard edition.[27] Nicki Minaj released the artwork for her album cover on Friday, October 15, 2010.[28]

Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010.[29] A buzz single, "Massive Attack", was released in April.[30] In August, Minaj released "Your Love" as the first official single from her debut album. The single peaked at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and topped the Rap Songs chart. Minaj became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List[8] and the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002.[31] In October 2010, Minaj became the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously.[6] Minaj released a joint single with The Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am titled, "Check It Out", which is Minaj's most successful single to-date around Europe. "Right thru Me" was released September 24, 2010. Written by Stephen Hacker, Joe Satriani, Andrew Thielk, B.Evans and Minaj herself. The music video was released in late October, which featured Minaj in a boy-and-girl relationship drama. "Moment 4 Life" followed "Right thru Me" and was released as the fourth overall single. The track featured Canadian rapper, Drake, which was released on December 7, 2010, which is proving to be as successful in the Billboard Hot 100, as it is climbing each week and currently at number 22. The single has so far peaked at number 5 on the Hot Rap Songs.[32] Minaj's album gained a Platinum certification in the United States a month after the release.[5]

On Saturday, January 29, 2011, Minaj appeared on Saturday Night Live as the musical guest. She performed her hit songs "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life". On February 9, 2011, it was announced that Pink Friday had reached number one on the Billboard 200 in its eleventh week on the chart.[33] It was hinted by Simon Cowell that Minaj would join the judging panel of the American version of the The X Factor.[34] Starting in June 2011, Minaj will be supporting Pink Friday by serving as an opening act along with Jessie and the Toy Boys and Nervo on Britney Spears' sixth concert tour, the Femme Fatale Tour, in support of her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale.[35] She also was featured on the official remix of Spears' track "Till The World Ends" along with Spears and singer Kesha, which charted at number 3 in the US in April 2011.[36] "Super Bass" was released from Pink Friday in May 2011, the reception of the single was huge after the single charted within the top 10 in many of countries including; United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada and more.[37] The song gained positive reviews from critics with some critics saying; "obvious hit",[38] "memorable hooks",[38] "infectious".[39] Minaj will voice a character in the 3D animated film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, as an unknown character,.[40][41] Minaj is also featured on French disc jockey David Guetta's 2011 album, Nothing but the Beat on "Where Them Girls At" and "Turn Me On".

Musical style and imageImageIn an interview with Vibe Minaj discussed her sexual image stating, "[w]hen I grew up I saw females doing certain things, and I thought I had to do that exactly. The female rappers of my day spoke about sex a lot... and I thought that to have the success they got, I would have to represent the same thing. When in fact I didn’t have to represent the same thing."[42] In an interview with Interview, Minaj commented on her sexual image again stating, "I made a conscious decision to try to tone down the sexiness, I want people—especially young girls—to know that in life, nothing is going to be based on sex appeal. You’ve got to have something else to go with that.”[43] Minaj has a tattoo in Chinese characters that reads "??????" (shangdi yu ni chang zai)[44] on her left arm, meaning, "God is always with you."[45]

Alter egosWhile growing up, Minaj's home life was often chaotic, with her parents constantly fighting.[46] As a means of escape, she would create characters and live her life through them.[46] In an interview with New York she stated, "To get away from all their fighting, I would imagine being a new person. 'Cookie' was my first identity – that stayed with me for a while. I went on to 'Harajuku Barbie,' then 'Nicki Minaj.' Fantasy was my reality."[46]

For her debut album, Minaj created another alter-ego named "Roman Zolanski".[47] She stated that in songs like "Bottoms Up" with Trey Songz it is not Minaj rapping, but instead Roman Zolanski, and claims that Roman is her "twin sister". She claims that she was born inside her, out of rage, and becomes her when she is angry. She has also said 'She is a demon inside her'. Roman has been compared to Eminem's alter ego Slim Shady, and on the song "Roman's Revenge" from Pink Friday, Minaj and Eminem collaborate, using these alter egos.[48] Roman also has a "mother" called "Martha Zolanski",[49] who also appeared on the song Roman's Revenge, with a British accent.[50] Martha appears in the video for "Moment 4 Life" where she appears to be Minaj's magical Godmother. In songs such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)" it is Minaj rapping.[47] Minaj stated that on her debut album, fans will get to "meet" Nicki, Roman and Onika.[47]

On November 18, 2010 Minaj assumed a different alter-ego named "Nicki Teresa".[51] Wearing a colorful scarf around her head, she went around as the "healer to her fans" as she visited them at The Garden of Dreams Foundation at Fuse studios in New York City.[51] Minaj made an appearance on Lopez Tonight on December 6, 2010 and presented a different alter-ego for the Spanish-inspired occasion, named "Rosa" (pronounced Rrrrrosa).[52]

InfluencesMinaj has stated that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, Jadakiss, Natasha Bedingfield, Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim and Missy Elliott.[53][54] She was also inspired by Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones[55] and Cyndi Lauper.[56]

Personal lifeWhile some songs and interviews have implied that Minaj is bisexual,[57][58] she has said that she does not date nor have sex with women,[17] but added in an interview with Out magazine, "I don’t date men either."[59] In an interview with Vibe she commented, "I just embrace all people of all lifestyles and I don’t tell them they are bad people. And I say girls are beautiful and girls are sexy and they need to be told that, and if they don’t have anyone to tell them that and mean it, I’m gonna tell them that. But I feel like people always wanna define me and I don’t wanna be defined."[60] She reiterated her dislike of being labeled in an interview with Out, saying: "The point is, everyone is not black and white. There are so many shades in the middle, and you’ve got to let people feel comfortable with saying what they want to say when they want to say it."[59]

During an interview in the May 2010 issue of Details, Minaj was asked if she felt hip-hop was becoming more gay-friendly. She responded, "I think the world is getting more gay-friendly, so hip-hop is too. But it's harder to imagine an openly gay male rapper being embraced, people view gay men as having no street credibility. But I think we'll see one in my lifetime."[58]

In July 2011, Minaj's cousin, Nicholas, was murdered near his home in Brooklyn, New York. Minaj tweeted that she was devastated.[61]

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