Nicki Minaj

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Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj 3, 2012.jpg
Minaj at the launch of her fragrance Pink Friday in Sydney, Australia, November 2012.
Background information
Birth name Onika Tanya Maraj
Born (1982-12-08) December 8, 1982 (age 31)[1]
Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
Origin Jamaica, Queens, New York, U.S.
Genres
Occupations
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2004–present
Labels Cash Money, Young Money, Republic
Associated acts Young Money, Lil Wayne, Drake
Website www.mypinkfriday.com

Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982),[2][3] better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj (/mɪˈnɑːʒ/), is an American[4] rapper, singer, songwriter and actress. After success with three mixtapes released between 2007 and 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Entertainment.

Minaj's debut studio album, Pink Friday (2010), peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Its most successful single, "Super Bass", was certified 8× platinum and has sold over four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States. During this time, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the Billboard Hot 100. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), topped the Billboard 200 and became one of the best-selling albums of that year. Its lead single, "Starships", peaked at number 5 in the United States and became one of the best-selling singles of 2012. Minaj also served as a judge during the twelfth season of American Idol.

Minaj is the first female artist included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List, with The New York Times suggesting that some consider her "the most influential female rapper of all time".[5] Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow, use of alter egos and accents, notably British cockney. Her outlandish and colorful costumes, wigs and clothing have given her recognition as a fashion icon. In April 2013, Minaj became the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with over 44 appearances. She has endorsed Adidas, MAC Cosmetics and Pepsi. Revisiting her roots in drama, Minaj has ventured into work as a voice actress in Ice Age: Continental Drift, and made her acting debut in the 2014 film The Other Woman. She has earned eight BET Awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, an MTV Europe Music Award, five Billboard Music Awards and Billboard's 2011 Rising Star award.

Early life

Onika Tanya Maraj was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 1982, to Carol and Robert Maraj.[6][7][8] She is of mixed Indian and Afro-Trinidadian ancestry, and has three siblings.[9][10][11] Minaj's mother held numerous jobs, including as accounting clerk, foreign exchange teller and gospel singer. Her father worked for American Express, suffered from alcohol and drug addictions, and once attempted to kill her mother by setting their house on fire.[12][13] Until she was five years old, Minaj lived with her grandmother in Saint James, and was occasionally visited by her mother. She and her mother later moved to the Queens borough of New York City.[14] Minaj stated that her upbringing lacked discipline and caused her to "seek out and practice self-discipline".[15]

Minaj attended P.S 045 Clarence Witherspoon School during her elementary years, and later attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet.[14] She then graduated from LaGuardia High School, which specializes in music and the visual and performing arts.[16][17] Minaj participated in the drama program and initially planned to sing at LaGuardia, but lost her voice on the day of the audition.[16] Minaj has described how in her high school life she was distracted from her academics by “acting and boys”.[18] Minaj wanted to become an actress, and in 2001, she was cast in the Off-Broadway play, "In Case You Forget".[19] After her acting career failed to take off, Minaj worked at Red Lobster in the Bronx at the age of 19 as a waitress.[20] Minaj was later fired from Red Lobster because of her discourteousness to customers. She stated she had been fired from "at least fifteen jobs" for similar antics.[21] Other jobs Minaj held were as administrative assistant, work in customer service, and an office manager position at an unknown business located on Wall Street.[22][23]

Career

2004–09: Early releases, Mixtapes and Young Money

Minaj in 2009

Minaj briefly signed with Brooklyn group Full Force, in which she rapped in a foursome group called The Hoodstars, which consisted of group members Lou$tar (son of "Bowlegged Lou"), Scaff Beezy and 7even Up.[24][25] In 2004 the group recorded the entrance song for WWE Diva, Victoria titled "Don't Mess With", which was featured on the compilation album ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol.6. Minaj later left the group, unsatisfied with their lack of success.

During this time, Minaj uploaded a few songs on her Myspace profile and sent a few of her songs to people in the music industry. At the time, she was managed by Debra Antney. Fendi, CEO of the Brooklyn label Dirty Money Entertainment, who also found rapper Gravy, discovered the music and contacted Minaj, signing her to his label. Initially, Minaj adopted the pseudonym "Nicki Maraj", later changing it to "Nicki Minaj", stating "My real name is Maraj. Fendi flipped it when he met me because I had such a nasty flow! I eat bitches!"[26] Under Fendi's label, Minaj appeared on the popular street DVD "The Come Up Volume 11", which featured underground rappers from New York.

Minaj released her first mixtape, Playtime Is Over, in 2007 with Dirty Money Records. Her second mixtape, Sucka Free, was released in April 2008. She won the Female Artist of the Year award at the 2008 Underground Music Awards shortly after.[27] On April 18, 2009, Minaj released her third mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, which received positive coverage on both BET and MTV.[28][29] She also appeared in XXL magazine during this time.[30]

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.[30][31] Minaj generated significant attention when she first appeared on Yo Gotti's "5 Star Chick" video, which gave her mainstream success with the urban community. At the request of Jay-Z, Minaj was asked to feature on Robin Thicke's single "Shakin' It 4 Daddy".[32] Following the guest appearance, Minaj was given a solo rap verse in the single "BedRock". The record garnered huge commercial success, peaking at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. She also appeared on "Roger That", which charted at number 56. The song, and particularly Minaj, received positive reviews from critics.[33] In December 2009, both songs were included in Young Money Entertainment's debut collaborative studio album We Are Young Money. The album charted in the top ten on the Billboard 200, reaching number 9 and later receiving a Gold Certification by the RIAA. Minaj was later featured on Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face" and its music video. The collaboration was well received by critics.[34]

2010–11: Breakthrough with Pink Friday

Main article: Pink Friday
A tan-skinned woman in a bright pink wig poses with hands on both side of her hips. Smiling, she stands before a black background and has Mandarin characters tattooed on her right arm.
Minaj at the 2010 MTV Music Awards

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.[35] Minaj was featured on Rihanna's "Raining Men" from her album Loud, which later led to a second collaboration on Minaj's "Fly" from her debut album.[36] Hip-hop rap artist and producer Kanye West was also confirmed for the album.[37] On August 3, 2010, Minaj revealed on a Ustream.tv channel that the album's name would be Pink Friday, a nod to Black Friday.[38] Minaj had received an offer to be a part of Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth Tour, but turned down the offer in order to complete her debut album.[39]

Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010.[40][41] A buzz single, "Massive Attack", was released in April.[42] In June 2010, Minaj released "Your Love" as the first official single from her debut album. The single peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 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 Rap Songs chart unaccompanied since 2002, and later became the first female artist to be featured on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List.[43][44] In October 2010, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously.[45] She released two singles in September 2010, one a joint single with The Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am titled "Check It Out" and the other "Right Thru Me". The music videos for both were released in late October. "Moment 4 Life" was released as the fourth single on December 7, 2010, featuring Canadian rapper Drake, becoming a success on the Billboard Hot 100. The single peaked at number 5 on the Hot Rap Songs.[46]

Minaj performing as an opening act on the Femme Fatale Tour

The album gained Platinum certification in the United States a month after the release.[47][48] 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, Pink Friday reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 in its eleventh week on the chart.[49] Minaj turned down an offer to become a judge on The X Factor, as rapped on her song "Roman Reloaded", due to its salary.[50] In June 2011, Minaj was an opening act along with Jessie and the Toy Boys and Nervo on Britney Spears's sixth concert tour, the Femme Fatale Tour, in support of her seventh studio album Femme Fatale.[51] She and singer Kesha were featured on the remix of Spears's track "Till the World Ends", which charted at number 3 in the US in April 2011.[52]

"Super Bass" was released from Pink Friday in May 2011. The single charted within the top 10 in many countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Canada and was later certified as octuple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[53] The song gained positive reviews from critics.[54][55] Minaj went on to attribute the success of the single in part to Taylor Swift, saying in an interview with American radio station 102.7 KIIS FM, "Taylor Swift did her little interview about 'Super Bass' and [it] took off in the States with the people sort of knowing it...It's just really uncanny how all that stuff happens...We didn't plan it like that."[56]

Minaj voiced a character in the 3D animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift named Steffie, a woolly mammoth.[57][58] Minaj is also featured on French DJ David Guetta's 2011 album Nothing but the Beat, on the singles "Where Them Girls At" and "Turn Me On".

2012–13: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and American Idol

Minaj's second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, was announced in November 2011 through her Twitter account and was released on April 2, 2012, two months later than initially planned.[59] 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."[60] Preceding the album's release, three promotional singles were released: "Roman in Moscow" (which did not make the final cut of the album), "Stupid Hoe", and "Roman Reloaded". The first single, "Starships," was released on February 14.[61] It peaked at a new best for Minaj when it reached number 2 in the United Kingdom, and it reached number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming her second top 10 success after 2011's "Super Bass". The music video was released on April 26, 2012,[62] and it became one of the year's best-selling singles.[63]

On February 12, 2012, Minaj debuted "Roman Holiday" at the 54th Grammy Awards,[64] becoming the first solo female rapper to perform a song on the Grammy stage.[65] The exorcism-themed performance drew a mixed response online.[66][67] Minaj was featured on "Give Me All Your Luvin'" (with M.I.A.) and "I Don't Give A" from Madonna's twelfth studio album, MDNA (2012);[68] the trio performed the former during the Super Bowl XLVI half-time show in February.[69]

The album's second single, "Right by My Side", which features Chris Brown, was released on March 27, 2012. It peaked at number 24 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart and number 101 in the UK singles chart. The third single, an electro-hop[70] song called "Beez in the Trap", which features 2 Chainz was released to U.S. urban radio on April 24, 2012. It peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard Rap Songs Chart.[71]

Minaj joined by Tyga at the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour at The O2 Arena, London, on October 30, 2012.

Minaj began her first worldwide tour, the Pink Friday Tour, on May 16, 2012. It was followed by the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour, which began in October.[72][73] Minaj cancelled her appearance at the 2012 V Festival in the United Kingdom and the final show of her Pink Friday Tour in Dublin due to damage to her vocal chords.[74][75]

Minaj was scheduled to headline during the Hot 97 Summer Jam in New Jersey on June 3, 2012 at MetLife Stadium, but pulled out of her performance on the day after one of the station's DJs (Peter Rosenberg) criticized "Starships" as not being "real hip-hop". Her mentor Lil Wayne heard the remark and pulled his Young Money labelmates from the show.[76] She was scheduled to bring out hip-hop artists Nas, Lauryn Hill, Cam'ron and Foxy Brown, among others.[77][78] She spoke to Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex, ending the dispute.[79]

An expanded version of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded subtitled The Re-Up was released on November 19, 2012.[80][81][82] The first single from the re-release, "The Boys", with Cassie, was released on September 13, 2012.[83] Its music video debuted on VEVO on October 18, 2012.[84] "Va Va Voom" was released as the fifth single from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded on October 23, 2012, and the second single from The Re-Up, "Freedom", was released on November 3, 2012.[85]

Minaj won the award for Best Female Video at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards and performed "Girl on Fire" with Alicia Keys and special guest gymnast Gabby Douglas.[86] At the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards, she was nominated for Best Hip-Hop, Best Female and Best Look, winning the first, but losing the other two to Taylor Swift.[87]

In September 2012, Minaj was confirmed to join the judging panel for the twelfth season of American Idol, alongsidge fellow new hires Mariah Carey and Keith Urban and returning judge Randy Jackson, with a salary of $12 million.[88][89] Minaj and Carey have received much media attention for their on-set tension, most notably with a leaked video of the two in the midst of a heated argument during the Charlotte, North Carolina auditions. The following day, Carey alleged that Minaj had threatened to "shoot her" during the aforementioned incident, though Minaj and producer Nigel Lythgoe denied such claims.[90] Minaj left the series at the conclusion of the season.[91]

In November 2012, she was featured in the three-part E! documentary special Nicki Minaj: My Truth.[80]

On April 12, 2013, Minaj became the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with 44 appearances.[92] She led nominations for rap musicians at the Billboard Music Awards 2013, having seven nominations,[93] and she won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards 2013, making history as the first female rapper to win the award four times consecutively.[94]

Minaj was sued by Chicagoan artist Clive Tanaka for copyright infringement over the single "Starships".[95] On December 30, 2013, she released a freestyle rap to the viral song "Boss Ass Bitch" by PTAF via SoundCloud,[96] which was later removed from her account because of copyright issues.

2014–present: The Other Woman and The Pink Print

Minaj confirmed plans to launch her own record label, having signed Parker Ighile, Brinx and Keisha as artists[97] and Blackout Movement as producer.[97] The title "Pink Friday Records" was intended, but was scrapped because it was "Not fair 2 the dudes"; the new name was supposed to be released "very soon".[97]

Minaj appeared in her first live-action theatrical film, The Other Woman. Filming began in spring 2013 and the film was released on April 25, 2014.[98] Minaj plays the role of assistant "Lydia" to the character, played by Cameron Diaz, "Carly".[99][100]

Minaj is currently working on her third studio album, which is scheduled for release in 2014.[101][102] She describes it as "a continuation of The Re-Up with a lot more". She also stated that it will focus on her "hip-hop roots".[103][104] During an interview with MTV, she stated that the work of her third album would be "next level" and will have "so much to talk about". She said, "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."[105]

Minaj released a string of freestyles on her SoundCloud throughout the first half of 2014. She released a remix to "Danny Glover" by Young Thug, on January 28, 2014[106] followed by "Chi-Raq" featuring Lil Herb and a song called "Yasss Bish" premiered online May 3, 2014, which features and is produced by Soulja Boy.[107]

On February 12, 2014, a video for the song "Lookin Ass" from her upcoming third studio album The Pink Print, directed by Nabil, was released.[108] The song is also a part of Young Money's compilation album, Young Money: Rise of an Empire, in which it serves as the official third single.[109]

The lead single from Minaj's upcoming third studio album, The Pink Print, was revealed to be titled "Pills N Potions" on May 18, 2014, by Minaj at the Billboard Music Awards red carpet. It was released on May 21, with the video debuting on Vevo June 10, 2014.[110][111]

On June 29, 2014, Minaj won Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards 2014 for the fifth consequtive year, making her the only artist, male or female to win the "Best Hip-Hop Artist" award five times in a row. Minaj also ties Missy Elliot for most wins of "Best Hip-Hop Artist", each currently winning five times.[112]

Artistry

Public image

An Afro-American woman in a blonde wig and bright teal eyeshadow wears a shirt constructed of variously colored cotton balls.
Minaj is known for her outlandish costumes, cosmetics, and wigs.

Minaj has been noted by the media for her curvaceous figure.[113][114][115] In an interview with VIBE, Minaj discussed her sexual image, stating, "When 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," later adding, "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."[116][117] Minaj has made "signing boobs" part of her movement to empower women.[118] In an interview with The Guardian, Minaj says she is competing with both male and female rappers. "That's why I say stuff like, 'Dick in your face', because I don't even wanna refer to female genitalia any more. ... I just feel I have bigger balls than the boys", Minaj said, referencing the song "Come on a Cone" from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. In her song "Moment 4 Life", she refers to herself as a king instead of a "queen".[119]

Minaj has been described as the "black Lady Gaga" due to her use of outlandish costumes and wigs, though Minaj has rejected such comparisons.[120] She cites Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace and Christian Louboutin as her favorite designers.[121] The Huffington Post described Minaj's fashion as "risk-taking", "far-out", with "bold sartorial choices",[122] with Yahoo! commenting that her costume was "colorful" and "crazy", and that "the fashion and music world would certainly be very quiet without Ms Minaj".[123] Minaj has been invited to attend various events for fashion designers. Donatella Versace invited Minaj to perform for the launch of the collaboration of Versace for H&M alongside Prince. She also performed "Super Bass" at a Victoria Secret fashion show in November 2011.[124] Minaj was personally invited to be seated with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week to see designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.[125]

With over 17,000 tweets and 16 million followers, Billboard ranked Minaj the sixth most active user of microblogging website Twitter.[126] In March 2011, Billboard named Minaj the fourth most active musician on social media, through their Social 50 chart.[127] The chart tracks Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram usage. On Twitter, she is the most followed rapper in the world.[128] On Twitter and in public appearances and interviews, Minaj refers to her fans collectively as "Barbs" and her male heterosexual and LGBT following as "Boys" and "Ken Barbs" respectively,[129] alluding to her "Harajuku Barbie persona. Minaj deleted her Twitter account for eight days in April 2012, following a dispute between her and her fans who wanted to leak snippets of her then unreleased album.[130] At the time, she had 11 million followers and lost over a million followers as a result of the ordeal.[131]

In 2012, amateur cartoonist David Monger authored a popular web series based on Nicki Minaj called The Nekci Menij Show. Featuring pop icons from Madonna to Marina and the Diamonds, the characters are illustrated in an intentionally crude manner, accompanied by SMS language, so as to mirror the Internet meme Dolan Duck.[132][133] Since September 2012, the show has garnered more than 2,500,000 views on YouTube. Primarily crafted using Microsoft Paint, the show is intended as a satire of celebrity syndrome and stan culture.[132][133] Minaj is the first, and only, female rapper to reach over one billion video views on YouTube.[134]

For the 2013 Met Gala, designer Tommy Hilfiger gifted Minaj a Rolex watch valued at $32,000.[135]

In 2013 Minaj's style underwent a transformation into a more "natural" look, including less colorful makeup and wigs, as she described in order to be taken more seriously, which made its debut during the later episodes of American Idol.[136][137]

Alter egos

While growing up, Minaj's home life was often chaotic, with her parents constantly fighting.[138] As a means of escape, she would create characters and live her life through them, saying, "To 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."[138] Minaj also introduced "Point Dexter" on her skit on SNL as an alter ego, but since then "Point Dexter" has not been mentioned as one of her main alter egos.

On November 18, 2010, Minaj assumed an alter ego named "Nicki Teresa".[139] Wearing a colorful scarf around her head, she went around as the "healer to her fans" as she visited them at The Garden of Dreams Foundation at Fuse studios in New York City.[139] Minaj made an appearance on Lopez Tonight on December 6, 2010 and presented a different alter-ego for the Spanish-inspired occasion, named "Rosa" (pronounced 'Rrrrrosa').[140]

Minaj switches between her fast-paced Roman Zolanski persona to his mother, Martha, during this 30-second sample of "Roman Holiday".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

For Pink Friday, Minaj created another alter ego, "Roman Zolanski", which Minaj claims is her "twin brother" that was born inside her, out of rage, and that she becomes him when she is angry. She has also said he is "a demon inside her".[141] Roman has been compared to Eminem's alter ego "Slim Shady", and on the song "Roman's Revenge" from Pink Friday, Minaj and Eminem collaborate, using these alter egos.[142] On her next album, she said there would be a lot of Roman in it, "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."[143] Roman also has a "mother" called "Martha Zolanski",[144] who also appeared on "Roman's Revenge", with a British accent,[145] and on "Roman Holiday", singing for the first time.[146][147] "Martha" appears in the video for "Moment 4 Life" where she appears to be Minaj's magical godmother. In songs such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)" it is Minaj rapping.[141] Minaj stated that on her debut album, fans will get to "meet" Nicki, Roman and Onika.[141] Minaj also produces with her management team and personal friends as Pink Friday Productions, most notable for producing in her second studio album.

Musical style

"When I started rapping, people were trying to make me like the typical New York rapper, but I'm not that," Minaj says. "No disrespect to New York rappers, but I don't want people to hear me and know exactly where I'm from."

—Minaj talking about her rapping technique in an interview with Billboard.[21]

Minaj is known for her animated rapping style, particularly her flow. She often combines metaphors, punchlines and wordplay into her work, which has received comparisons to her mentor, Lil Wayne. The New York Times described Minaj as "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."[148] While many critics describe her technique as bubblegum rap, Minaj explained, "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—im not mad at it because it got everyone's attention."[149] Widely recognized as a rap artist, Minaj heavily lends herself to electronic music genres,[150] especially electropop. Her debut album Pink Friday marked her exploration of the genre, spawning a string of electro-hits, including "Super Bass".[151] Following the same conventions of combining rap with electronic synths, Minaj's second album pervasively toiled in the electropop genre and generated various songs, including "HOV Lane", "Whip It", "Automatic", "Come On A Cone", "Young Forever", and "Fire Burns",[152] and the Billboard hits, "Roman Holiday"[64] and "Beez in the Trap".[70] At this stage in Minaj's career, she adventured into collaborations with other artists, producing additional electronic hits: "The Boys" with "Me & U" singer Cassie, and "Beauty and a Beat" with Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber.[153]

Her verse in Kanye West's "Monster" was well received by critics, stating she had the best verse in the song.[154] Her alter egos are incorporated in her lyrics through her use of British accents (Roman Zolanski) and being soft-spoken (Harajuku Barbie.) Ice-T says of Minaj's rapping style, "[Minaj] does her thing. She has her own way of doing it. She has an ill vocal delivery. She kind of reminds me of a female Busta Rhymes, like how she throws her voice in different directions."[155]

Influences

Rapper Jay-Z has been a major influence for Minaj.

Minaj has stated that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Lil Wayne, Smokey Robinson, Lauryn Hill, Jadakiss, Natasha Bedingfield, Remy Ma,[156] Lil' Kim and Missy Elliott.[157][158] She has also been inspired by Janet Jackson,[159] Madonna, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones,[160] M.I.A. and Cyndi Lauper.[161][162][163]

Minaj cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major influences, saying, "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."[164] She once 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", and added that Foxy Brown was "the most influential female rapper" for her.[165]

Jada Pinkett Smith is one of Minaj's role models in her acting career.[166] Minaj was inspired by R&B singer Monica, and used to sing her song "Why I Love You So Much" at every talent show she took part in; while performing in Atlanta on her Pink Friday Tour, she referred to Monica as one of her biggest musical influences of all time.[167] Minaj has also named Kanye West, Trina and Drake as influences.[168]

Minaj has called Betsey Johnson another of her fashion inspirations, saying, "[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!"[169] Minaj has also expressed her love for Cyndi Lauper's style, and how her videos inspired her image when she was a teenager, saying, "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."[170]

Other ventures

Endorsements

A plastic doll on display wearing a gauzy, pale gown with a neon pink wig and matching stilettos.
A custom-made Barbie by Mattel, modeled after Minaj

Minaj has signed contracts with a variety of corporate interests and manufacturing companies. In 2010, Minaj created her own app for Android and iPhone users titled after her official website "MyPinkFriday", which featured her self-created slang dictionary, the "Nictionary". In April 2011, she helped launch Casio's TRYX digital camera in Times Square, along with The Roots.[171] In April 2012, Minaj launched the Nokia Lumia 900 in Times Square, which she followed with a performance of "Starships," "Super Bass" and "Right by My Side".[172] In February 2012, Minaj contracted a promotional deal with Pepsi, for which she appeared in a commercial s".hot in Argentina for the global LiveForNow campaign, and in internet advertisements. The commercial featured a remix of "Moment 4 Life".[173][174] In December 2011, Mattel produced a custom-made Nicki Minaj-themed Barbie to be auctioned on charitybuzz and with an estimated value of $US15,000.[175][176]

MAC Cosmetics collaborated with Minaj on many business ventures, such as a limited edition lipstick called Pink 4 Friday that went on sale for four consecutive Fridays starting on November 26, 2010 to promote the release of Pink Friday[177] and also as part of the Viva Glam campaign with Ricky Martin in Latin America, which has raised $US270 million for the Mac AIDS Fund.[178][179] Minaj fronted their Viva Glam 2013 campaign, releasing a new shade of lipstick called Nicki 2 and matching lip-gloss. Minaj announced that her clothing line would be launched through retailer K-Mart on January 9, 2013.[180] Minaj has collaborated with OPI Products on a six-piece nail polish collection with colors named after her songs.[181]

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. The ad was filmed in a disclosed location in Brooklyn and also featured Big Sean, Derrick Rose, Sky Ferreira and 2NE1, all around the world wearing Adidas attire. The commercial used Minaj's song "Masquerade" as the theme song for the ad.[182][183] On February 14, 2013, Bluewater Comics revealed that Minaj would star in the "Fame" biographical comic series and would make her debut in the comic book titled Fame: Nicki Minaj that was released to stores February 13, 2013.[184] In April 2013, Minaj partnered with Beats Electronics to launch the "Pink Pill" speaker, sold exclusively through AT&T; she and actor DeRay Davis appeared in its commercial later that month.[185][186] On June 6, 2013, Minaj released a press release regarding the moscato beverage called "Myx Fusions". The press release revealed that Minaj would not only front the campaign, but also has shared ownership of the company.[187]

Fashion endeavors

Minaj planned to launch her clothing line "The Nicki Minaj Collection" in the fall of 2013, and has described it as "Harajuku Barbie". Minaj's line includes fashion, accessories and houseware. It was announced in January 2013, with Adam Levine on the same contract, that it would be sold in mass retail stores such as Walmart and Target. Minaj's clothing line "The Nicki Minaj Collection" will be exclusively sold at K-Mart, as announced in January 2013.[188][189][190] Minaj revealed via Twitter that she is working on two books.[191]

In September 2012, Minaj launched her first fragrance Pink Friday with Give Back Brands; the bottle resembles Minaj as she appears on the cover of the album Pink Friday.[192][193][194] It is sold under exclusive licence to Macy's in the United States and Elizabeth Arden internationally.[195][196] In April 2013, the limited version Pink Friday Special Edition was launched.[197] In July 2013, Minaj announced that her second fragrance Minajesty would be released in September 2013.[198]

Personal life

Minaj is the first and only female rapper to be featured on Forbes's Hip Hop Cash Kings list. She made her first appearance on the list in 2011, having earned $US $6.5 million from May 2010 to May 2011.[199] In 2012, she ranked at No. 8 on the list, having earned US $15.5 million from May 2011 to May 2012.[200] Minaj further rose on the list in 2013, ranking at No. 4, being behind P Diddy, Jay-Z, and Dr. Dre, with total earnings of US $29 million, from June 2012 to June 2013.[201] In the aftermath of the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy, Minaj donated $15,000 to the Food Bank For New York City and held a turkey drive at her alma mater, P.S. 45 in New York.[202]

Minaj is a Christian.[203][204] She stated that after her father went to rehab and started attending church, "he got saved and started changing his life."[203][205]

In July 2011, Minaj's cousin Nicholas Telemaque was murdered near his home in Brooklyn, New York City.[206] Minaj referenced Telemaque in the song "Champion" through the lyrics, "Cause they killed my little cousin, Nicholas/ But my memory's only happy images."[207][208]

Critics have noted Minaj's use of various sexual identities within her music,[209] with some implying that she is bisexual.[210] However, she has said that she does not date or have sex with women,[16] but added in an interview with Out magazine, "I don't date men either."[211] 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. ... But I feel like people always wanna define me and I don't wanna be defined."[212]

Feuds

Remy Ma

Disagreements between female rapper Remy Ma and Minaj originated in 2007, when Remy took note of Minaj's freestyle record, nicknamed "Dirty Money",[213] from her mixtape Playtime Is Over (2007).[214][215] 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".[215] When the two encountered each other at an industry party, Remy asked Minaj who she was dissing in the song.[216][217] Nicki Minaj reportedly never confirmed or denied that the song was about Remy,[215] 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".[215][216]

On December 17, 2007, a viral video surfaced via the internet featuring an alleged Nicki Minaj dressed in male attire dissing Remy Ma and admitting to having a previous sexual relationship with the rapper by remarking: "I used to [date] her, straight off. This is not a stunt [...] I just told you, [Remy Ma] ate the box."[218][219] Roughly three years following the video's release, Remy Ma confirmed in an interview that she had "doubts" that the woman in the video was actually Nicki Minaj and explained that she was not gay and never dated Minaj.[219][220][221] Since 2011, Remy Ma has stated that she supports Nicki Minaj and her success,[217][222][223] but has added that she is going to be "a problem" to Minaj once she is released from prison.[222][224]

Lil' Kim

Minaj has been embroiled in a feud with veteran rapper Lil' Kim since her success with Pink Friday.[225] 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."[225] Minaj's single "Roman's Revenge" with Eminem was believed to be a response to Kim's comments,[226] although she later denied this,[227] 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."[228]

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.[225] A fragment of a diss track called "Tragedy" was released in response by Minaj in April 2011.[229] Following the release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, critics suggested that the track "Stupid Hoe"[230] 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".[231]

The feud has drawn attention from various other recording artists and rappers. Minaj's labelmate and rapper, Drake said "[he] didn't give a f--- [sic] what Lil Kim or nobody else is talking about."[232] 50 Cent commented on the situation in an online interview with Power 98.3 FM remarking, "It's obvious ... she [Minaj] was inspired by some of Kim's [style]. But that's not bad. There's not a whole lot of female artists that you can make reference to, so you'll see those little influences even stronger. I think she's hot – I think she's got a good little thing going right now, as far as Nicki Minaj is concerned."[233] Diddy spoke of his love and respect for Kim, attributing his personal success, in part, to her, however he defended working with Minaj stating that "I wouldn't be around Nicki if I ever heard anything negative said about Kim. I've never heard anything like that."[234] Mary J. Blige commented on the rivalry, saying, "Kim is my friend and I love and respect Nicki, just met her and got to know the young lady and she's a sweetheart," adding that the feud had arisen because of "crews" behind it.[235]

Foxy Brown

In November 2010, fellow female rapper Foxy Brown dubbed Nicki Minaj a liar for her false recollection of Brown having a conversation with her about Lil' Kim.[236] On November 26, 2010, Brown released a diss track titled "Hold Yuh", which targeted Minaj and Kim, in which Brown made references of Minaj being "a fake, pop style".[237][238] The following month, Brown released another diss record titled "Massacre" which again targeted both Minaj and Kim.[239][240] In the summer of 2012, Brown and Minaj ended their dispute and "surprise dissed" Lil' Kim during a venue at Minaj's Pink Friday Tour, just roughly a month following Kim's venue featuring her and various female rappers during her Return of the Queen Tour.[241][242] Brown and Minaj were additionally set to hold a venue during the Hot 97 Summer Jam 2012 that would feature a "funeral" for Kim,[243][244] but the pair pulled out last minute due to a dispute involving Summer Jam headliner Peter Rosenberg, who criticized Minaj's "Starships" for being "the most sell-out song in hip-hop history [...] Katy Perry bullshit not hardcore hip-hop".[243][244][245][246]

Mariah Carey

In October 2012, a video was leaked to TMZ that showed Minaj and fellow American Idol judge Mariah Carey in the midst of a heated argument during auditions in Charlotte, North Carolina.[247] Minaj was alleged to have been heard saying off-camera, "If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch",[248] which she denied.[249] Host Ryan Seacrest commented that the dispute "went a little too far",[250] while fellow judge Keith Urban jokingly said "I was the UN".[251] The feud elicited a comment from President Barack Obama that Carey and Minaj will "sort it out".[252]

In January 2013, Carey claimed in an interview with Barbara Walters on The View that Minaj created an "unsafe work environment" and increased her personal security.[253] She later commented that she had since made up with Minaj. Carey's husband Nick Cannon claimed that the feud was used by producers to generate interest and ratings,[254] though producer Nigel Lythgoe denied responsibility for leaking the video or that it was a publicity stunt, adding that they had no plans to use the footage.[255][256] Fox executive Mike Darnell described the buzz due to the feud as being great.[257] The episode in which Charlotte auditions were aired did not show the tirade; the minor conflict shown appears to have no linear connection with the leaked footage.[258]

In April 2013, Carey noted during an episode of American Idol that Minaj had not had a number one song on the US Billboard Hot 100. The following day, Minaj took to Twitter to post what have been described as "extremely harsh" insults against Carey. She labelled the singer as "insecure" and "bitter", while also referencing a rumor that series producers wanted to bring Jennifer Lopez back to the panel after a significant decline in ratings that season; "All dem #1s but JLo phone ringin? Lol. I guess having a personality, being a secure woman, and giving genuine critique still trumps that", Minaj tweeted.[259][260][261][262] In November 2013, Carey stated that American Idol "was like going to work everyday in hell with Satan".[263]

Other controversies

In February 2009, Nicki Minaj engaged in a dispute with Vh1's Miss Rap Supreme winner Rece Steele, after Minaj reportedly interrupted Steele's interview by advertising herself by placing a sign behind Steele's head.[264][265] Steele went on to add that Minaj "[wa]sn't hip-hop" but just "garbage" and "eye-candy".[264] On April 29, 2009, Nicki Minaj took part in a phone interview with Spate Magazine, however when mention of the Rece Stele-incident was brought up, Minaj hung up on the interviewers.[266][267] Throughout 2010, Minaj became the pinnacle of various female rap feuds amongst the likes of Khia, Gloria Velez and Keys;[268][269][270] the latter of whom would engage in a brief feud after Minaj "subliminally" dissed her on DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win (Remix)" and a Ustream video.[271][272] In September 2011, Latin female rapper Miss Lady Pinks dissed Minaj on her record, "Bang On You Bitches".[273]

On November 26, 2011, Nicki Minaj engaged in a feud with pop music icon Cher via her Twitter account.[274] On October 4, 2012, Minaj attacked female rap veteran Da Brat via her Twitter account after false reports of Brat defending Mariah Carey and threatening to beat Minaj with a bottle were released.[275][276] 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."[275][277] Da Brat responded to Minaj by tweeting: "Nicki nor Mariah has ever disrespected me so I would not disrespect either of them."[276][277] In November 2012, Nicki Minaj falsely accused rock musician Steven Tyler and American journalist Barbara Walters as racists over comments surrounding her American Idol feud with Mariah Carey.[278][279]

In November 2013, when interviewers asked Minaj what her thoughts were on Grammy Award-nominated rapper Kendrick Lamar's featured diss record "Control", Minaj responded: "I feel like [Kendrick] maybe one of those respectful gentlemen that probably felt like 'I don't want to say a female's name.' Or maybe he just don't think the kid is ill [...] I'm the queen of New York. I'm the king of New York. Let me tell you why. Platinum albums. Albums. Plural. Number one in five motherfucking countries, nigga. Don't play with me. You better respect my motherfucking gangsta, bitch. When you got an album that goes number one in Japan, the U.K., Australia, America at the same motherfucking time then you can speak my motherfucking name."[280][281][282][283] In February 2014, Vinny Guadagnino of MTV's Jersey Shore denounced Nicki Minaj as a "bitch", recalling an incident where he tried to take a picture with Minaj.[284] Hot 97 personality Cipha Sounds shared similar thoughts, where he recounted Minaj rudely kicking him out of his own studio.[284]

Discography

Filmography

Tours