Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), known by her stage name Nicki Minaj is a rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Born in Saint James, Port of Spain and raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, she enrolled in performing art schools as a child. After success with three mixtapes released between 2007 and 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Entertainment.
Onika Tanya Maraj was born in Saint James, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, to parents Carol and Robert Maraj. She is of mixed Indian and Afro-Trinidadian ancestry and has two siblings. Minaj’s mother held numerous jobs, including an accounting clerk, a foreign exchange teller, and a gospel singer. Her father worked for American Express, suffered from alcohol and drug addictions, and once attempted to kill her mother by setting their house on fire. Until she was five years old, Minaj lived with her grandmother in Saint James, and was occasionally visited by her mother. She and her mother later moved to Queens, NY. Minaj stated that her upbringing lacked discipline, and caused her to “seek out and practice self discipline”.
Minaj attended P.S 045 Clarence Witherspoon School during her elementary years, and later attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet. She then graduated from LaGuardia High School, which specializes in music and the visual and performing arts. Minaj described her high school life as being distracted from her academics by “acting and boys”. Minaj wanted to become an actress, and in 2001, she was cast in the Off-Broadway play, “In Case You Forget”. After her acting career failed to take off, Minaj worked at Red Lobster in the Bronx at the age of 19 as a waitress. Minaj was fired from Red Lobster because of her discourteousness to customers. She stated she had been fired from “at least fifteen jobs” for similar antics. Other jobs Minaj held were administrative assistant, customer service and an office manager position at an unknown business located on Wall Street.
Minaj briefly signed with Brooklyn group Full Force, in which Minaj rapped in a foursome group called “Hoodstars,” which consisted of group members Lou$tar, Scaff Beezy (Minaj’s current hype man) , and 7even Up. In 2004 the group recorded the entrance song for WWE Diva Victoria titled “Don’t Mess With,” it was featured on the compilation album ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol.6. Minaj left the group, unsatisfied with their lack of success. During this time, Minaj uploaded a few songs on her Myspace profile and sent a few of her songs to people in the music industry she was managed by Debra Antney. Fendi, CEO of the Brooklyn label Dirty Money Entertainment, discovered the music and contacted Minaj, signing her to his label. Initially, Minaj adopted the pseudonym “Nicki Maraj”, later changing to “Nicki Minaj”, stating “My real name is Maraj. Fendi flipped it when he met me because I had such a nasty flow! I eat bitches!” Under Fendi’s label, Minaj appeared on the popular street DVD “The Come Up Volume 11“ that featured underground rappers from New York.
In August 2009, Minaj signed a record deal with Young Money Entertainment, with distribution from Universal Motown Records, after fellow American rapper Lil Wayne discovered her on The Come Up DVD. Minaj generated significant attention when she first appeared on Yo Gotti’s “5 Star Chick” video, which gave her mainstream success with the urban community. At the request of Jay-Z, Minaj was asked to feature on Robin Thicke’s single “Shakin’ It 4 Daddy”.
Minaj’s debut studio album Pink Friday (2010) peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Its most successful single “Super Bass” was certified quadruple-platinum and has sold over four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States. During this time, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Her second record Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) became one of the best-selling albums of that year and has sold one million copies worldwide. Its lead single “Starships” became her highest-peaking single in the United States and one of the best-selling singles of 2012. Its reissue Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up(2012) has sold approximately 800,000 copies worldwide. In 2013, her albums exceeded worldwide sales of five million units. That year, Minaj served as a judge during the twelfth season of American Idol.
Minaj is the first female artist included on MTV’s Annual Hottest MC List, with The New York Times suggesting that some consider her “the most influential female rapper of all time.” Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow, use of alter egos and accents, notably British cockney. Her outlandish and colorful costumes, wigs and clothing have given her recognition as a fashion icon. In April 2013, Minaj became the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with over forty-four appearances. She has endorsed Adidas, MAC Cosmetics, and Pepsi. Revisiting her roots in drama, Minaj has ventured into work as a voice actress in Ice Age: Continental Drift and is making her acting debut in the 2014 film The Other Woman. She has earned seven BET Awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, an MTV Europe Music Award, five Billboard Music Awards and Billboard‘s 2011 Rising Star.
Not too bad for a chick raised in Southside Jamaica, Queens. All hail to Nicki’s hard work and dedication. She definitely has an inpsiring ashy to classy story. Nicki rose from the ashes into class, fame, and true success.