Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), known by her stage name Nicki Minaj ( /mɪˈnɑːʒ/), is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and voice actress. She was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and when she was 5 years of age she moved to the New York City borough of Queens, where she grew up.
After releasing three mixtapes between 2007 and 2009 and being signed to Young Money Entertainment in August 2009, Minaj released her debut album, Pink Friday, in November 2010. It quickly became a commercial success, peaking at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release. She became the first female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. Her second single, "Your Love", reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, making Minaj the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. "Super Bass" was Minaj's seventh single and has since been certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold more than four million digital copies as of May 2012, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was released on April 3, 2012. Since then the album has become one of the top selling albums of 2012 according to the Neilsen SoundScan selling 1,000,000 copies worldwide.
Minaj has received a number of awards, and has set precedents for female rap artists. She became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List. Minaj was named the 2011 Rising Star by Billboard. Brent Staples of The New York Times suggests that some consider her "the most influential female rapper of all time."
2007–09: Mixtapes and Young Money
Minaj released her first mixtape in 2007 after releasing Playtime Is Over with Dirty Money Records. She released another mixtape on July 7, 2008, titled Sucka Free, under the label Be. On April 18, 2009, Minaj released a third mixtape and appeared in XXL magazine. She won the Female Artist of the Year award at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. Minaj released Beam Me Up Scotty, another mixtape, in April 2009 under the label of Trapaholics Records; it received positive coverage on both BET and MTV.
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 and secured the record deal. Minaj generated a lot of attention when she first appeared on Yo Gotti's 5 Star Chick (remix) video, which gave her mainstream success with the urban community. She then had a solo rap verse in their single "BedRock," which became a commercial success, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj also appeared on "Roger That", which charted at number 56. The song, and in particular Minaj, received positive reviews from critics. Both 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 200, reaching number 9 and later receiving a Gold Certification by the RIAA.She was then chosen by Mariah Carey to be featured on her single and music video for "Up Out My Face". Critics praised her collaboration for helping to maintain Carey's feminine image and providing a polite track for the female R&B singer. Minaj was recommended to feature on Robin Thicke's single Shakin' It 4 Daddy by rapper Jay-Z.
2010–11: Pink Friday
Main article: Pink Friday
After a major record label bidding war, Young Money Entertainment announced on August 31, 2009 that Minaj had been released from a 360 deal with the label in which she retains and owns all of her 360 rights – including merchandising, sponsorships, endorsements, touring and publishing. 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. Hip-hop rap artist and producer Kanye West was also confirmed for the album. On August 3, 2010 Minaj revealed on a Ustream.tv channel that the album's name would be Pink Friday, in reference to Black Friday.
Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010 in both standard and deluxe versions. A buzz single, "Massive Attack", was released in April. 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 and the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. In October 2010, Minaj became the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously. 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 in Europe. "Right Thru Me" was released September 24, 2010; the music video was released in late October. "Moment 4 Life" was released as the fourth single. The track featured Canadian rapper Drake and was released on December 7, 2010, becoming a success on the Billboard Hot 100. The single peaked at number 5 on the Hot Rap Songs.
The album gained Platinum certification in the United States a month after the release. On January 29, 2011, Minaj appeared on Saturday Night Live as the musical guest, performing "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. It was hinted by Simon Cowell that Minaj would join the judging panel of the American version of the The X Factor. 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. 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.
"Super Bass" was released from Pink Friday in May 2011, the single charted within the top 10 in many countries including; United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada, and later was certified as quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song gained positive reviews from critics. Minaj voiced a character in the 3D animated film, Ice Age: Continental Drift, as Steffie, a woolly mammoth. Minaj is also featured on French DJ David Guetta's 2011 album, Nothing but the Beat on "Where Them Girls At" and "Turn Me On".
2011–present: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Minaj's second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, was first announced through Twitter in November 2011 and was released on April 2, 2012 in the United Kingdom and April 3, 2012 in the United States. The album features collaborations with producers Hit-Boy, Dr. Luke, Rico Beats, Kenoe, RedOne and Oak. Cash Money A&R Joshua Berkman told HitQuarters that Minaj was extremely particular about the beats and music she used saying: "She wouldn't just rap or sing on anything – I could give her a thousand tracks and she may only like one or two." Preceding the album's release, three promotional singles were released: Roman in Moscow (which didn't make the final cut of the album), "Stupid Hoe," and "Roman Reloaded." The album's first single, "Starships", was released on February 14. "Starships" became Minaj's best-peaking single in the United Kingdom, when it reached a peak of 2. It has also peaked at number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it her second top 10 arrival following, "Super Bass" in 2011. The music video was released on April 26th, 2012.
On February 12, 2012, Minaj debuted her song "Roman Holiday" at the 54th Grammy Awards. It was the first song ever performed on the Grammy stage by a solo female rapper. The exorcism-themed performance drew a mixed response online. She was featured on Madonna's twelfth studio album, titled MDNA, alongside M.I.A. on its lead single "Give Me All Your Luvin'", for which a music video has been directed by Megaforce. The trio performed the song for the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. She was also featured on a song called "I Don't Give A", another track from the album.
She released her second single, "Right by My Side", which features Chris Brown, on March 27, 2012, after premiering on Minaj's website on March 20, 2012. Following the album's release, it peaked at number 24 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. It also peaked in the lower regions of the UK singles chart, at position #101. The third single, "Beez in the Trap", which features 2 Chainz was released to U.S. Urban radio on April 24, 2012. It was premiered on DJ Flex's radio show at Hot 97 on March 20, 2012. It has peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard Rap Songs Chart. The video was premiered on April 6, 2012 on Minaj's official VEVO account.
Minaj began her first worldwide tour, the Pink Friday Tour on May 16, 2012 in Sydney at the Hordern Pavillion. The Spring/Summer leg of the tour venues will be held in mixture of theatres and arenas, while the Fall leg is set to be held in only arenas. The Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour, will begin in Auckland at Vector Arena on September 28, 2012, the tour will end November 7, 2012 at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff. Due to a high demand of tickets the tour was extended,the new dates are at Newcastle Arena on October 28 and Manchester Arena on November 2, meaning she will play both venues twice.
Nicki was scheduled to headline during Hot 97 Summer Jam in New Jersey on June 3 2012 at MetLife Stadium but backed out of the show after the DJ for the station (Peter Rosenberg) criticized Minaj's song "Starships" as not being "real hip-hop", her mentor Lil Wayne heard the remark and pulled his Young Money labelmates from the show. Minaj was scheduled to bring out hip-hop legends Nas, Lauryn Hill, Cam'ron, Foxy Brown, and other rap artist. Minaj confirmed her absence via Twitter stating "Wow. U n---az just fucked up history. But the President has spoken. #YMCMB," she wrote, later adding, "I go above and beyond for my fans. But won't ever go against wayne's word. What he says, goes." Nicki called into radio station Hot 97 to speak on the incident with Funkmaster Flex, which ended the dispute with the radio station, and DJ Peter Rosenberg.