Onika Tanya Maraj in real life, Nicki Minaj’s success has been typified by a series of firsts. She was the first female rapper to create an MTV Annual Hottest MCs in Game List, the first female rapper to achieve seven songs on the Hot 100 in Billboard simultaneously and the first female rapper to place No.1 on Rap charts since 2003. In a musical genre almost entirely dominated by males, she has managed to stand out and become one of the biggest female rappers today.
Born on December 8, 1984 in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, her parents were of mixed Afro-Trinidadian and Indian ancestry and grew in Saint James until age five before they moved to Queens borough of New York City. Nicki Minaj grew up in a troubled family. Her father was addicted to alcohol and drugs, stealing their furniture to support the habit and once tried to kill her mother by attempting to burn their house.
But Minaj was a tough teenager who often got into fights while studying in Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School. She graduated high school in LaGuardia Arts, the Manhattan-based performing arts school where she specialized in drama. She initially chose to sing but lost her voice during audition.
Like many other big stars determined to penetrate the music industry, Nicki Minaj started her singing career on backup singing roles for various New York City rappers. Soon, she started writing her own material. She was eventually spotted by the Young Money CEO Fendi, who found her Minaj’s MySpace page.
She immediately signed to his label and got included on Young Money’s The Come Up DVD series. When Lil Wayne heard her work on The Come Up DVD, he immediately tagged Nicki Minaj for several collaborations on his mixtape. In 2007, she released her first mixtape entitled Playtime is Over.
Two years later, she released Sucka Free(2008), which won her the award for Female Artist of the Year at the Underground Music Awards, and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009). The succeeding mix tapes highlighted Minaj’s swagger, out-front style. She released a solo rap verse in the single BedRock that peaked No.2 on Billboard Hot 100.
After the release of her mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty, which already gained positive acclaims from MTV and BET, she got featured in several joint tracks for albums from popular artists like Mariah Carey, Ludacris, Usher and of course, her mentor Lil Wayne. In her verse on Kanye West’s song Monster, she boasted that she earns ‘50k for a verse, No Album out’. This fact alone meant Minaj rose to hip-hop’s higher ranks without even releasing an LP.
Her slew of mixtapes and small parts on songs by big music artists managed to set new standards for female rappers. By early 2010, huge anticipation had mounted around her first debut full-length album. In April of the same year, her single Massive Attack was released. Two later, she won Best Hip-Hop Female at the BET Awards and dedicated the award to mentor Weezy.
On November 2010, Pink Friday was released on both standard and deluxe versions. Her first official single Your Love dropped in August. The album received platinum certification in the US only a month after the release.
On June 2011, Nicki Minaj served as one of the opening acts on Britney Spear’s Femme Fatale Tour as part of promoting Pink Friday. Her single ‘Super Bass’ became an instant hit, charting within the top 10 in different countries including UK, US, Australia and Canada. On November 2011, she announced via Twitter that her second album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is in the works and is set to be released on Valentine’s Day 2012.