Born as Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8th, 1982, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the American-based singer and songwriter would later change her name to Nicki Minaj when she rose to prominence in the music scene. Minaj moved to the United States when she was five, and was raised in Queens, New York City, where she attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Her intention was to become an actress, securing her first off-Broadway role in 2001. While Minaj attempted to break into the entertainment business, she supported herself financially with customer service jobs.
Nicki Minaj’s career beginnings can be traced back to the year 2004, when she briefly joined the hip hop and R&B group Full Force. She later released her songs on the social network Myspace, catching the attention of the record label Dirty Money Entertainment. Minaj was signed on to the label in 2007, originally under the stage name Nicki Maraj. Her first mixtape was released that same year, titled Playtime Is Over, followed by two more Sucka Free (2008) and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009), to positive reviews. During this time, Nicki was also featured on singles by other popular artists, like Mariah Carey, Robin Thicke and Lil Wayne.
In 2010, Minaj introduced her debut album, Pink Friday, to favorable critics and a strong commercial performance, selling over 300,000 copies in its first week out, with hit singles such as “Super Brass,” “Your Love,” “Check It Out,” and “Moment 4 Life.” Her album got nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album. In 2011, Minaj was the opening act on singer Britney Spears’s Femme Fatale tour, and she also collaborated alongside Kesha to one of the pop singer’s singles. The rapper released her second album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, in April 2012. Its main single, “Starships,” was one of the top best-selling singles of that year, and the record was a commercial success. Minaj made her film debut lending her voice in the animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift.
To promote both her albums, Minaj embarked on the Pink Friday Tour in May 2012, followed by the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour. That same year, she was a judge on the twelve season of singing competition, American Idol. The Pinkprint, Minaj’s third album, was released in 2014. The record’s second single, “Anaconda,” reached top charting position in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and its music video got almost twenty million views on its release day and later became the first one by a solo female rapper to reach one billion views on YouTube in 2021. Minaj received three more Grammy nominations for the album as well. In April 2016, she appeared in the third installment of the Barbershop movies, titled Barbershop: The Next Cut, and her performance was met with positive reviews.
Minaj released her fourth studio album in 2018, called Queen, to critical and commercial success. In 2019, Minaj voice acted in the animated feature The Angry Birds Movie 2 and contributed to the Charlie’s Angels: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. She then collaborated with Colombian singer Karol G on the song “Tusa,” which turned into the longest-running top single in Argentina chartings. With the re-release of her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty, Minaj achieved in 2021 the highest debut for a female rap mixtape on the Billboard 200 chart. Nicknamed the “Queen of Hip Hop,” Nicki Minaj is one of the world’s best-selling musical artists and considered one of the top female rappers of her generation.