Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj (English pronunciation: /nɪkɪ mɪˈnɑːdʒ/), is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and model. Born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago (a district of Trinidad's capital Port of Spain) and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, Minaj earned public attention after releasing three mixtapes between 2007 and 2009. She has been signed to Young Money Entertainment since 2009.
Minaj's first and second studio albums, Pink Friday (2010) and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), both peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and produced the successful singles "Super Bass" and "Starships", respectively. In 2010, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Her third studio album, The Pinkprint (2014), was preceded by its second single, "Anaconda", which peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and is her highest-charting single in the U.S. to date. Minaj made her film debut in the 2012 animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift, followed by supporting roles in The Other Woman (2014) and Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016). In 2013, she was a judge on the twelfth season of American Idol.
Minaj was the first female artist included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List, with a New York Times editor saying that some consider her to be "the most influential female rapper of all time". In 2016, Minaj was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow and the use of alter egos and accents, primarily British cockney. Early in her career, Minaj was known for her colorful costumes and wigs. According to Billboard, Minaj has the most Hot 100 entries for a female artist in the chart's history, while being ninth overall. Minaj has received ten Grammy nominations throughout her career, and has won six American Music Awards, eleven BET Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and was the recipient of Billboard's Women in Music 2011 Rising Star award. She has further endorsed Adidas, MAC Cosmetics and Pepsi. She has sold 20 million singles as a lead artist, and 60 million singles as a featured artist worldwide.
Onika Tanya Maraj was born on December 8, 1982. Her father, Robert Maraj, a financial executive and part-time gospel singer, is of Indo-Trinidadian descent. Her mother, Carol Maraj, also a gospel singer, is of Afro-Trinidadian ancestry. Carol worked in payroll and accounting departments during Minaj's youth. Minaj's father was addicted to alcohol and other drugs, and had a violent temper, burning down their house in December 1987. She has two siblings.
As a small child, Minaj and a sibling lived with her grandmother in Saint James. Her mother, who had moved to The Bronx, New York to attend Monroe College, brought the family to Queens, New York, when Minaj was 5. By then the family had a house on West 147th Street. Minaj recalled, "I don’t think I had a lot of discipline in my household. My mom motivated me, but it wasn’t a strict household. I kind of wanted a strict household." Minaj successfully auditioned for admission to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, which focuses on visual and performing arts. After graduation, Minaj wanted to become an actress, and she was cast in the Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001. At the age of 19, as she struggled with her acting career, she worked as a waitress at Red Lobster in the Bronx, but was fired for discourtesy to customers. She said she was fired from "at least fifteen jobs" for similar reasons. She also worked as an administrative assistant, in customer service and as an office manager for a Wall Street business.
2004–2009: Career beginnings
Minaj briefly signed with Brooklyn group Full Force, in which she rapped in a quartet called "The Hoodstars" composed of Lou$tar (son of "Bowlegged Lou"), Safaree Samuels (Scaff Beezy) and 7even Up. In 2004 the group recorded the entrance song for WWE Diva Victoria, "Don't Mess With", which was featured on the compilation album ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol.6. 7even Up explained that he and Nicki weren't fans of Safaree's reggae edge that he brought to the group, and he even went so far to say that it was the reason they weren't getting signed by labels. Minaj later left Full Force and uploaded songs on her Myspace profile, sending several of her songs to people in the music industry. At the time, she was managed by Debra Antney. Fendi, CEO of Brooklyn label Dirty Money Entertainment, signed Minaj to his label in 2007 under a 180-day contract. Originally adopting the stage name "Nicki Maraj", she changed it to Nicki Minaj stating that "My real name is Maraj. Fendi flipped it when he met me because I had such a nasty flow! I eat bitches!"
Minaj released her first mixtape, Playtime is Over, on Dirty Money Records on July 5, 2007 and her second, Sucka Free, on April 12, 2008. That year, she was named Female Artist of the Year at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. In 2009 Minaj was involved in a conflict with ego trip's Miss Rap Supreme winner Rece Steele, who was annoyed when Minaj interrupted her interview and put a sign behind Steele's head; Minaj hung up on interviewers from Spate magazine when they asked about the incident. She released her third mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, on April 18, 2009 and it received favorable coverage on BET and MTV. One of its tracks, "I Get Crazy", reached number 20 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and number 37 on the magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
After Minaj was discovered by fellow rapper Lil Wayne, in August 2009 it was reported that she signed a recording contract with his Young Money Entertainment. That November, she appeared with Gucci Mane and Trina on the remix of "5 Star Bitch" by Yo Gotti. Minaj also appeared on "BedRock" and "Roger That" on the compilation album, We Are Young Money (2009). The singles peaked at numbers two and 56, respectively, on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; their parent album reached number-nine on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Minaj was featured on Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face", which reached number 100 on the Billboard Hot 100. At Jay-Z's suggestion, that February Robin Thicke featured Minaj on "Shakin' It 4 Daddy".
2010–2011: Breakthrough with Pink Friday
Minaj released the intended lead single from her upcoming debut album, "Massive Attack" on March 29, 2010. Plans for the single were scrapped after an underwhelming commercial performance. As a result, "Your Love" was released as the album's lead single on June 1, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-one on the Billboard Rap Songs chart. In August, Minaj announced that the album would be entitled Pink Friday, a play on "Black Friday". The following month she released "Check It Out" and "Right Thru Me" as follow-up singles. In October, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously and the first woman to appear on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List.
Pink Friday was released on November 19, debuting at number-two on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 375,000 copies. "Moment 4 Life" was released as the fourth single shortly after. The album was certified platinum in December, and eventually reached number-one in the United States in February 2011. Minaj performed "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life" as the musical guest on the January 29 episode of Saturday Night Live. "Super Bass", the album's fifth single, was released in April 2011. The song peaked at number-three on the Billboard Hot 100 and had been certified octuple-platinum in the U.S. Minaj credited the song's initial exposure to its mention by Taylor Swift, after videos of Swift and Selena Gomez rapping along to the song went viral, paving the way for Minaj's first big crossover pop moment.
Minaj was one of the opening acts on Britney Spears' June 16 – August 13 Femme Fatale Tour. She and Kesha appeared on the remix of Spears' "Till the World Ends", which peaked at number-three on the Billboard Hot 100. On August 7, 2011, Nicki experienced a "nip slip" during a live performance on Good Morning America. Minaj was criticized for wearing the low-cut shirt during her performance which led to the brief exposure of her breast on a live telecast. ABC apologized for incident. Minaj, while interviewed on ABC's Nightline show, apologized for the incident and denied that she intentionally sought to expose herself on live television as a publicity stunt. The incident soaked protest from the Parents Television Council. President of the PTC president Tim Winter stated, "the Parents Television Council has something to say about Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction this morning. For the umpteenth time in recent memory a morning news show has included inappropriate content for children and families." Winter called out Good Morning America for not using the five-second delay to prevent the broadcast of the exposure. Minaj has been invited to perform at fashion events; Donatella Versace invited her to perform with Prince for the introduction of a Versace collection for H&M, and she performed "Super Bass" at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Since her breakout with Pink Friday, Minaj has been involved in a feud with rapper Lil' Kim, who accused Minaj of copying her style. Although Minaj's "Roman's Revenge" was thought to be directed at Kim, she said she was "talking about everyone who has been in interviews talking ... no one is worth being singled out. No one is worth having their name mentioned out of my mouth and they never will get that." Kim escalated the feud with her mixtape, Black Friday (2011), whose title and artwork mimic Pink Friday; a fragment from Minaj's diss track, "Tragedy", previewed that April. Their conflict sparked a feud between Minaj and rapper Foxy Brown, who said Minaj misrepresented their conversation about Kim. Brown released the diss tracks "Hold Yuh" and "Massacre" (directed at Kim and Minaj) in November 2010 and January 2011, respectively, but Brown and Minaj settled their dispute in June 2012.
2012–2013: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and American Idol
Minaj released her second studio album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in April 2012. The album was preceded by the promotional singles "Roman in Moscow" and "Stupid Hoe". Critics suggested that the latter song was directed at Lil' Kim, who said: "If you have to make a song called 'Stupid Hoe,' you must be a stupid hoe." Minaj and rapper M.I.A. joined Madonna to perform their single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'", on the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show on February 6, 2012. She was the first solo female rapper to perform at the Grammy Awards, premiering "Roman Holiday" during the 2012 ceremony on February 12. Her exorcism-themed performance was controversial, with the American Catholic League criticizing Minaj for bringing a fake "Pope" to escort her on the red carpet. The "exorcism" scene that was performed during her appearance was criticized as well. According to the Catholic League president Bill Donohue "Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, 'Come All Ye Faithful' was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating."
"Starships" was released in February 2012 as the lead single from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The song reached number-five on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the fifth best-selling single of 2012. For the most part, mainstream critics didn't receive well the pop crossover move. Minaj was sued by Chicago artist Clive Tanaka in September 2013 for its alleged copyright infringement. Follow-up singles "Beez in the Trap" and "Right by My Side" were released shortly after. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was released on April 2, two months later than planned.
The album debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 253,000 copies, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 2012. However, its mix of hip-hop songs and mainstream pop material received mixed reviews from music critics. "Pound the Alarm" and "Va Va Voom" were released as the final singles from the album. Minaj began her headlining Pink Friday Tour on May 16, 2012, which was followed by the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour beginning October 14. Although she was scheduled to headline the June 3 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, at the request of Lil Wayne she canceled her appearance the day of the show after Peter Rosenberg of the station called "Starships" not "real hip-hop".
The following month, Minaj voiced Steffie in the animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012). She won awards for Best Female Video (for "Starships") at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards and Best Hip-Hop at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. Her collaboration with Pearl Future on the song "Looking At Me" made it to the top 20 in BBC Radio 1. An expanded version of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, subtitled The Re-Up, was released on November 19. That month, Minaj was the subject of a three-part E!documentary titled Nicki Minaj: My Truth. She announced plans for her own record label after signing Parker Ighile, Brinx, Keisha and Blackout Movement.
In September, Minaj joined the judges' panel for the twelfth season of American Idol with fellow new judges Mariah Carey and Keith Urban and the returning Randy Jackson.That October a leaked video circulated, with Minaj and Carey in a heated argument during auditions in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carey accused Minaj of saying, "If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch", but Minaj denied the allegation. Carey said that Minaj created an "unsafe work environment", increasing her security as a result.
Tensions escalated after Carey said that Minaj did not have a number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 during a live broadcast in May 2013, to which Minaj responded in a series of "extremely harsh" tweets directed at the singer. Minaj and Carey left the series that month, at the end of the season. That year Minaj was the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with 44 entries, tying Mariah Carey. Her seven nominations led those for rap musicians at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, and she was the first rapper to win the BET Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award four consecutive times.
2014–2015: The Other Woman and The Pinkprint
Minaj's first live-action theatrical film The Other Woman was filmed in spring 2013 and premiered on April 25, 2014. She played Lydia, assistant to Carly (played by Cameron Diaz). In 2013, Minaj described her then-forthcoming third album, The Pinkprint as "a continuation of The Re-Up with a lot more" and said it would focus on her "hip-hop roots". During an MTV interview, she said that her third album would be "next level" and have "much to talk about": "I'm really excited and the people that have been working with me now, have been people that I haven't worked with before so it's like they're bringing a new sound to the album that I've never experimented with." During the recording process Minaj recorded two songs that were inspired by Irish singer-songwriter Enya, Minaj stated that the songs contain "airiness and the whimsicalness" that reminded her of Enya. "Pills n Potions" was released as the lead single from The Pinkprint in May 2014. "Anaconda" was released in August as the second single, peaking at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her highest-charting single in the U.S. to date. The video set a 24-hour Vevo record, accumulating 19.6 million views on its first day of release, breaking the record previously held by Miley Cyrus for "Wrecking Ball". The album was officially released on December 15, 2014, peaking at number-two on the Billboard 200 chart.
On June 29, Minaj became the only artist to win the BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist for five consecutive years, while also tying Missy Elliott for the most wins with five. In November 2014, Minaj released a video containing Nazi-style imagery for her third single "Only". There was immediate backlash from the Anti Defamation League, who stated that it was "troubling that no one among Minaj's group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release." They called the video "insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era."
On November 9, 2014, Minaj hosted the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland. She also won an award for Best Hip-Hop. In December, Minaj received two Grammy nominations: for Best Rap Song for "Anaconda" and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Bang Bang" with Jessie J and Ariana Grande. In March 2015, Minaj embarked on her third world tour entitled The Pinkprint Tour. The tour kicked off in Europe. It is scheduled to travel to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Dubai, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. In March 2015, she became the first female artist to chart four songs simultaneously in the top 10 of Billboard's Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart. At the 2015 BET Awards, Minaj won her sixth consecutive award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, becoming the female rapper with most wins in that category.
2016–present: Barbershop: The Next Cut, upcoming fourth studio album, and other projects
In May 2015, it was announced that Minaj would feature in the third installment of the Barbershop film series, alongside Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, and other original cast members. Titled Barbershop: The Next Cut, the film was released on April 15, 2016 and received critical acclaim, earning an average score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Minaj's character in the film is a "sassy" hairdresser named Draya.
It was announced that Minaj will executive produce and appear in a scripted single-camera comedy series for ABC Family (now Freeform) based on her life growing up in Queens, New York. The show has been titled Nicki and is scheduled to be broadcast in 2016. The project, from Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, filmed the pilot episode in Minaj’s hometown in January 2016, and production has since continued.Ariana Neal will play a young Minaj in the series, alongside Selita Ebanks (her mother), Wesley Jonathan (her father), and McCarrie McCausland (her older brother). In October 2016, Minaj stated the filming was postponed. Nicki Minaj is working on her currently untitled fourth studio album, and has released the singles "Regret in Your Tears", "No Frauds" and "Changed It".
In February 2017, she was featured and co-wrote Jason Derulo's "Swalla", that reached the UK singles chart. The next month, she signed with the major modeling agency, Wilhelmina Models.
Minaj's physique has attracted attention from the media. In 2010, she said that although she originally felt obligated to mimic the provocative behavior of the "female rappers of [her] day", she intended to subdue her sexuality because she "[wants] 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." The rapper has made autographing breasts part of her movement to empower women.
In a Guardian interview, Minaj said she competes with male and female rappers. In "Moment 4 Life", she refers to herself as a "king" rather than a queen. Early in her career Minaj claimed to be bisexual, but eventually she said she just did that to get attention. "I think girls are sexy, but I'm not going to lie and say that I date girls."
Minaj has been called the "black Lady Gaga" because of her costumes and wigs. In one interview, Minaj rejected the comparison, but in another interview, she said that she is inspired by Gaga's creativity. Minaj has cited Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace and Christian Louboutin as her favorite designers. The Huffington Post described her style as "risk-taking" and "far-out", with "bold sartorial choices"; Yahoo! called her dress "colorful" and "crazy", and "the fashion and music world would certainly be very quiet without Ms Minaj".
Billboard listed Minaj the fourth-most-active musician on social media on its March 2011 Social 50 chart. On Twitter, she is the world's most-followed rapper, with over 20 million followers on the app. On Twitter, in public appearances and in interviews, Minaj calls her fans "Barbz" (alluding to her Barbie persona).
When I started rapping, people were trying to make me like the typical New York rapper, but I'm not that. No disrespect to New York rappers, but I don't want people to hear me and know exactly where I'm from.
—Minaj on her rapping technique in a Billboard interview
Minaj is known for her animated rapping style, her flow in particular. She often combines metaphors, punch lines and word play into her work, which has been compared to her mentor Lil Wayne. The New York Times called Minaj "a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase. She's a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look. And she's a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones." Although many critics describe her technique as bubblegum rap, Minaj said: "What people don't know is that before I was doing that craziness I was doing me, I was just doing regular sounding rap that anyone could hear and identify with. But once I started doing all that weird shit—I'm not mad at it because it got everyone's attention."
Noted as a rap artist, she lends herself to electronic music genres (especially electropop). Pink Friday marked her exploration of the genres, spawning electro songs including the pop-laden "Super Bass". Also combining rap with synthesizer music, Minaj's second album had a number of electro-hop and electropop songs: "HOV Lane", "Whip It", "Automatic", "Come on a Cone", "Young Forever", "Fire Burns", "Roman Holiday" and "Beez in the Trap"; while "Starships" is an europop and dance song. She collaborated with other artists, producing more electronic songs: "The Boys" with "Me & U" singer Cassie and "Beauty and a Beat" with Justin Bieber.
Her verse in Kanye West's "Monster" was critically acclaimed and contributed greatly to her popularity; many critics said she had the best verse in the song. Her alter egos are incorporated with her lyrics in British accents (Roman Zolanski) or soft-spokenness (Harajuku Barbie). Ice-T said about Minaj's rapping style, "[Minaj] does her thing. She has her own way of doing it. She has an ill [sic] vocal delivery. She kind of reminds me of a female Busta Rhymes, like how she throws her voice in different directions."
Minaj's "Monster" verse was listed by Complex as the best rap verse of the 2010s. West claimed at one point he considered deleting her verse from the track, because he was worried it would outshine his own work:
It was like that moment when I thought about taking Nicki’s verse off of “Monster” because I knew people would say that was the best verse on the best Hip Hop album of all time or arguably top ten albums of all time. And I would do all that work, eight months of work on “Dark Fantasy” and people to this day would say to me ‘My favorite thing was Nicki Minaj’s verse.’ So if I let my ego get the best of me instead of letting that girl get the shot to get that platform to be all she could be, I would take it off or marginalize her, try to stop her from having that shining moment…
With her parents frequently fighting during her childhood, Minaj lived through characters she created as a means of escape. She recalled that "fantasy was my reality" and her first identity was Cookie, who became Harajuku Barbie and (later) Nicki Minaj. In November 2010, Minaj assumed the alter ego Nicki Teresa, wearing a colorful headdress and calling herself "healer to her fans" during a visit to the Garden of Dreams Foundation at Fuse Studios in New York. She introduced another alter ego, Rosa (pronounced with an exaggerated R), to commemorate her December 2010 appearance on Lopez Tonight.
For Pink Friday, Minaj created another alter ego: Roman Zolanski, "a demon inside her", Minaj's "twin brother" whose character she assumes when she is angry. Roman has been compared to Eminem's alter ego Slim Shady, and on "Roman's Revenge" Minaj and Eminem collaborate as their alter egos. On her next album, she said that there would be a lot of Roman: "And if you're not familiar with Roman, then you will be familiar with him very soon. He's the boy that lives inside of me. He's a lunatic and he's gay and he'll be on there a lot." Roman has a mother, Martha Zolanski, who appeared on "Roman's Revenge" with a British accent and singing on "Roman Holiday" for the first time. Martha appeared in the "Moment 4 Life" video as Minaj's apparent fairy godmother. Although Minaj was rapping in songs such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)", she promised to introduce Nicki, Roman and Onika on her first album.
Minaj has said that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Lil Wayne, Smokey Robinson, Lauryn Hill, Jadakiss, Natasha Bedingfield, Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones, M.I.A., Cyndi Lauper and TLC.She cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major influences: "I really loved [Foxy] as a female rapper. I was really interested in her mind and her aura [and] I was really, really into Jay-Z. Me and my friends in high school, we were reciting all of the Jay lyrics. His words were our words in our conversations all the time." She said: "I never really told Foxy how much she has influenced me and how much she changed my life, and you've gotta tell people that when they're alive to even be able to take the compliment, instead of paying tribute to them when they're no longer here", adding that Foxy Brown was "the most influential female rapper" for her, though she initially was compared to Lil Kim when she first debuted. Nicki and Lil Kim, often cited as Foxy's main rap rival, have reportedly exchanged words with each other, on social media and in their music.
Jada Pinkett Smith is one of Minaj's role models in her acting career. Minaj was inspired by R&B singer Monica, singing "Why I Love You So Much" at every talent show she entered. Performing in Atlanta on her Pink Friday Tour, she called Monica one of her all-time greatest musical influences. Minaj has also cited Kanye West, Trina and Drake as influences.
She called Betsey Johnson a fashion inspiration: "[Betsey] is a free spirit. When I met her the other day, I felt like I knew her for my whole life. She's so warm and considerate and caring. She's amazingly talented and I've been wearing her clothes forever, so to meet her was like, 'Yay!' [I was] bowing down to her; she's dope!" Minaj has also expressed appreciation for Cyndi Lauper's style and how her videos inspired her as a teenager: "When I first went to get my hair colored, I was about 14 and I wanted blonde highlights. The beautician said, 'No, you have to get your mother on the phone,' and I was just crying and begging. I've always been experimenting. Cyndi Lauper's videos – that's what intrigued me."
Products and endorsements
Minaj has been affiliated with several manufacturing companies and has endorsed a number of products during her career. Her first collaboration was a November 2010 endorsement deal with MAC Cosmetics which sold a lipstick, "Pink 4 Friday", for four consecutive Fridays to promote her album Pink Friday. In 2011, Minaj helped introduce the Casio TRYX in Times Square, and created a six-piece nail polish collection for OPI Products with colors named after her songs. That December, Mattel produced a custom-made, Minaj-themed Barbie doll valued at about $15,000 for auction on charitybuzz.
In April 2012, Minaj helped launch the Nokia Lumia 900 in Times Square. The following month, Minaj appeared in television and internet advertisements for Pepsi's "LiveForNow" campaign, which featured a remix of her single "Moment 4 Life". She endorsed the 2012 Viva Glam campaign with Ricky Martin, which raised $270 million for the Mac AIDS Fund. With designer Jeremy Scott, Minaj signed an endorsement deal with Adidas' fall and winter 2012 campaign to appear in internet advertisements and commercials for Adidas Originals. Set to her song, "Masquerade", her segment of the advertisement was filmed in Brooklyn and also featured Big Sean, Derrick Rose, Sky Ferreira and 2NE1 in other locations worldwide.
In early 2013, Minaj fronted the Viva Glam campaign by herself, which included the introduction of "Nicki 2 lipstick and lip gloss". She also introduced the "Nicki Minaj Collection" clothing line for Kmart, composed of clothing, accessories and housewares. In February 2013, Bluewater Comics announced that Minaj would star in the Fame biographical-comic series, debuting in Fame: Nicki Minaj. She partnered with Beats Electronics to introduce her "Pink Pill" speakers in April 2013, appearing with DeRay Davis in a commercial for the speakers that same month. In June 2013, Minaj lead an ad campaign for Myx Fusions, a fruit-infused, single serve moscato wine beverage of which she is a part owner.
Minaj has a prominent fragrance line, which was launched in September 2012. She partnered with 'Give Back Brands' to introduce her first fragrance, Pink Friday. A "Pink Friday: Special Edition" was released in April 2013. A deluxe edition version of the fragrance, titled "Pink Friday: Deluxe Edition", was also launched in December 2013. Her second fragrance line, Minajesty, was launched in September 2013. A flanker fragrance, "Minajesty: Exotic Edition", was released exclusively to the Home Shopping Network in June 2014. This was followed by the launch of her third fragrance line, "Onika", in September 2014.
In December 2014, Minaj was announced as the new face of the Roberto Cavalli spring/summer 2015 campaign. The campaign images, shot in Los Angeles by Italian photographer Francesco Carrozzini, see Minaj posing in flowy bohemian dresses, defined by embroideries and animal prints typical of the Cavalli brand. On March 30, 2015, it was announced that Minaj is a co-owner of the music streaming service Tidal. The service specializes in lossless audio and high definition music videos. In addition to Minaj and company owner Jay Z, sixteen stakeholders including Beyoncé, Madonna, Rihanna and Kanye West own a 3% equity stake in the service.
Minaj is the only woman to be featured on the Forbes Hip Hop Cash Kings list. She made her first appearance on the list in 2011, earning U.S. $6.5 million from May 2010 to May 2011. In 2012, she placed eighth on the list, earning U.S. $15.5 million from May 2011 to May 2012. Minaj rose to the fourth position on the list in 2013, earning U.S. $29 million from June 2012 to June 2013. She made her fourth consecutive appearance on the list in 2014, earning U.S. $14 million from June 2013 to June 2014. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Minaj donated $15,000 to the Food Bank For New York City and held a turkey drive at her alma mater, PS 45.
Minaj has stated that after her father went to rehab and began attending church, "he got saved and started changing his life". In July 2011, Minaj's cousin, Nicholas Telemaque, was murdered near his home in Brooklyn, which she references in her songs "Champion": "Cause they killed my little cousin, Nicholas/ But my memory's only happy images", and "All Things Go": "I lost my little cousin to a senseless act of violence". In late 2014, Minaj separated from her longtime boyfriend Safaree Samuels. Several tracks on The Pinkprint are believed to have been inspired by the end of their relationship. She also revealed she had an abortion as a teenager in her song "All Things Go".
Disagreements between female rapper Remy Ma and Minaj originated in 2007, when Remy took note of Minaj's freestyle record, nicknamed "Dirty Money", from her mixtape Playtime Is Over (2007). In the record, Minaj recites: "Tell that bitch with the crown to run it like Chris Brown/she won three rounds, I'ma need a hundred thou/like 'Chinatown' — bitches better bow down/oh you ain’t know, betcha bitches know now/fuck I got a gun — let her know that I’m the one". When the two encountered each other at an industry party, Remy asked Minaj who she was dissing in the song. Nicki Minaj reportedly never confirmed or denied that the song was about Remy, however Remy Ma remarked in a 2010 interview, "To this day I still feel like [the song] is a stab at me; I'm gonna [diss Minaj] back for that one". Since 2011, Remy Ma has stated that she supports Nicki Minaj and her success, but added that she would be "a problem" to Minaj once she is released from prison. On March 3, 2017, during a visit to The Wendy Williams Show, Remy Ma affirmed that her option in releasing a blatant Minaj diss track titled "Shether" was considered after allegations were brought forward to Ma's camp about Minaj "trying to keep [Remy Ma] off of red carpets, trying to make sure awards don't go to [Remy]" and "trying to make people make bad reports about Plata O Plomo album sales." Ma's opinion of Minaj not being a "nice person" and past incidents with Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, and Lil' Kim were also factors in "Shether"'s release.
Minaj has been embroiled in a feud with veteran rapper Lil' Kim since her success with Pink Friday. Kim accused Minaj of copying her image saying, "If you are going to steal my swag, you gonna have to pay. Something gotta give. You help me, I help you. That's how it goes to me." Minaj's single "Roman's Revenge" with Eminem was believed to be a response to Kim's comments, although she later denied this, she responded to the situation in an interview with HOT 97's Angie Martinez saying, "She picked a fight with Foxy, then she picked a fight with Eve, then she picked a fight with Remy, then it was Mrs. Wallace, then it was Nicki Minaj. Every time you in the news, it's 'cause you gettin' at somebody! Where's your music? Put your music out, and when I see your name on Billboard, that's when I'll respond to you. Other than that, goodbye. It's Barbie, bitch." Lil' Kim reignited the feud with the release of her mixtape Black Friday (the title of which directly referenced Minaj). The artwork portrays Lil' Kim decapitating Minaj with a sword. A fragment of a diss track called "Tragedy" was released in response by Minaj in April 2011. Following the release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, critics suggested that the track "Stupid Hoe" may have contained attacks directed at Kim. Lil' Kim later suggested in an interview with 105's Breakfast Club that the song "Automatic" was similar to her unreleased material, also calling Minaj "obnoxious" and "catty".
On October 4, 2012, a dispute between Minaj and Da Brat embroiled via Twitter after fabricated reports of Brat defending Mariah Carey and threatening to beat Minaj with a bottle were released. Minaj denounced Brat as a "sir" and tweeted: "The struggle for u to even AFFORD that bottle is why the barbz r now cackling DOWNNNt." Da Brat responded to Minaj by tweeting: "Nicki nor Mariah has ever disrespected me so I would not disrespect either of them." In November 2012, Nicki Minaj accused rock musician Steven Tyler and American journalist Barbara Walters as racists over comments surrounding her American Idol feud with Mariah Carey.
In February 2014, disagreements between Malcolm X daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and Minaj's promotional team reached when Shabazz was displeased by the artwork of her slain father used "inappropriately" for Minaj's single "Lookin' Ass Nigga". A statement from the Malcolm X estate was prompted, reading: "Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy, is completely disrespectful, and in no way is endorsed by [Shabazz or the Malcolm X] family." Minaj released an apology to the estate, however the rapper received backlash after remarks were made towards Shabazz in a mixtape recording ("Chi-Raq") that went: "Malcolm X daughter came at me/lookin’ ass niggas ain’t happy/rolled out with some Latin Kings and some eses in them plain khaki’s."
In 2015, parties between Miley Cyrus and Minaj reached conflict after allegations of Minaj's impolite behavior was reported to New York Times. During an onstage appearance at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, words were exchanged between the pair when Minaj stated: "Now, back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press: Miley, what's good?" Cyrus later relayed that her Times interview was "manipulated". In 2016, Minaj referenced Cyrus in a remix to Yo Gotti's album track "Down in the DM".
Awards and nominations
Throughout her career, Minaj has won numerous awards including: six American Music Awards, ten BET Awards, seven BET Hip Hop Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, three MTV Europe Music Awards, two People's Choice Awards, one Soul Train Music Award, and four Teen Choice Awards.
Minaj won the American Music Awards for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album in three different years for her first three albums. She has won twice MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video for "Super Bass" and "Anaconda", and one Best Female Video for "Starships"
Between 2011 and 2016, Minaj received a total of 10 Grammy Award nominations. She received her first Grammy nomination in 2011 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the single "My Chick Bad" with fellow rapper Ludacris. For the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012, Minaj received three nominations, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album for her debut album Pink Friday. Minaj received her second nomination for Best Rap Album at the 58th Grammy Awards for The Pinkprint.
- List of Trinidadians
- Music of Trinidad and Tobago
- East Coast hip hop
- Honorific nicknames in popular music
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