Nicki Minaj Biography
Minaj was born Onika Tonya Maraj in 1984, to parents of Indian and African descent. She lived in Trinidad with her grandmother until age 5 when she moved to Queens, New York. According to Minaj, her father drank alcohol, took drugs, and once tried to kill her mother by setting the house on fire. She attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210 and graduated from LaGuardia High School. At LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts, Minaj participated in the drama program. She once worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in the Bronx.
2004–2009: Career beginnings and mixtapes
Minaj created some mixtape tracks, and appeared in XXL magazine. In 2008 she won the Female Artist of the Year award at the Underground Music Awards. Minaj released Beam Me Up Scotty, another mixtape, in April 2009 which received positive coverage on both BET and MTV.
2010-present: Pink Friday
Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday will be released on November 23, 2010. 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 top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. In October 2010, Minaj became the first female rapper to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart..
Musical style and image
In 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." 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.”
While growing up Nicki was surrounded by constant trouble and fighting between her parents. To escape her real life problems she would create characters and live her life through them. In an interview with New York she stated, “[t]o 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. I must have been such a fucking annoying little girl.”
For her debut album, Minaj created another alter-ego named "Roman Zolanski". She stated that in songs like "Bottoms Up" with Trey Songz it is not Nicki rapping, but instead Roman Zolanski. In song's such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)" it is Nicki rapping. Minaj stated that on her debut album, fans will get to "meet" Nicki, Roman and Onika.
Minaj has stated that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, and Lil' Kim.
While some songs and interviews have implied that Minaj is bisexual, she has said that she does not date nor have sex with women, but added in an interview with OUT magazine, "I don’t date men either". 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." 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."
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."