Nicki Minaj
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Onika Tanya Maraj, more commonly known as Nicki Minaj, is arguably one of the most prominent female rappers in the music industry. Her success has not plateaued in the slightest and she continues to be an icon in the rap world. She was born on December 8, 1982 in Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Queens, New York. Nicki, age 35, signed with Young Money Entertainment in 2009 and since then her career has exploded. Although she signed with YM in 2009, her efforts to become an all-time great rapper started years before.

Early Life

Minaj’s mother, Carol, moved the family from Trinidad to Queens, New York when Nicki was five years old. She lived in a house on West 147th Street with her mother and two siblings. Minaj attended, LaGuardia High School, a visual and performing arts high school in Manhattan. Once Nicki graduated high school she wanted to pursue a career in acting but found it to be a struggle so she worked side jobs as well. At age 19 she was working for a Red Lobster in the Bronx but was fired for discourtesy to customers; something the attitude prone rapper would proudly admit to. She also worked many other jobs in administrative assistance, customer service, and office management.

Beginnings of Career

In 2004, Nicki was signed with a rap group called “The Hood$tars” where she met her then boyfriend Safaree Samuels. Minaj eventually left the group and turned to Myspace to start distributing her music. A few years later, in 2007 she was signed by Fendi with Dirty Money Records under a 180-day contract. Her first mixtape, Playtime Is Over, was released in July of 2007 and her second mixtape, Sucka Free, in April of 2008. That same year she was named Female Artist of the Year at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. Her third and final mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, dropped in April of 2009 and generated the most buzz Minaj had ever received in her career at that point. The popularity that followed after Beam Me Up Scotty gave her the opportunity to meet fellow rapper and now friend, Lil Wayne. Weezy recognized the young female rapper’s talent and almost immediately signed her to Young Money Entertainment in August of 2009. Following signing with Young Money, Nicki was featured in popular songs like “5 Star Bitch”, “BedRock”, and “Roger That”. “BedRock” peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Her career continued to sky rocket from there.

Pink Friday

The lead single for Minaj’s debut album was called “Your Love” and was released in June of 2010. The single reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart. In September she released two more singles in anticipation for the album: “Check It Out” and “Right Thru Me”. The month after, Nicki became the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time and the first female to appear on MTV’s Annual Hottest MC List. Pink Friday was then released the following month on November 19, 2010. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and in its first week sold 375,000 copies. Due to Pink Friday’s success, one year later, in December of 2011, Minaj was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album.

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded

The lead single for Minaj’s second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, dropped in February of 2012. The single, titled “Starships” received mixed reviews due to its pop vibe, despite being one of her best-selling singles of all time. The entire album was released in April of 2012 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was also certified platinum by June. The album was criticized for the mix of hip-hop and mainstream pop songs. Many fans were disappointed by the pop sound and expressed their desire for the “real” rap Nicki.

American Idol

In September 2012, Minaj became a judge on American Idol, joining Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, and Randy Jackson. A month later, controversy erupted over a video that was leaked showing Carey and Minaj having a heated argument. Carey claimed Minaj fostered an “unsafe work environment”. Their beef with each other drove them both to leave the show after just one season. Despite leaving American Idol in the spring of 2013, that same year Minaj became the most-charted female rapper in history on the Billboard Hot 100 with 44 entries. At that same time she was also the first rapper to win the BET Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award four consecutive times.

The Pinkprint

The first single for Minaj’s third album was title “Pills n Potions” and dropped in May 2014. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” was the second single for Pinkprint, released in August 2014 and became her highest-charted single in the US to date. The music video for “Anaconda” set a 24 hour Vevo record, receiving 19.6 million views on its first day of release. “Only” was the third single released for the upcoming album. The song featured fellow Young Money artists Lil Wayne and Drake. Unfortunately, the music video for “Only” gained a lot of negative attention due to the Nazi-style imagery contained in the video. The Pinkprint was officially released December 15, 2014. Debuting at number two, the artist’s third album gained generally very positive reviews. The album also gave Nicki another Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album. Then on June 29th, Minaj became the only artist to ever win the BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist for five consecutive years.

The Queen Reigns

All in all Nicki Minaj continues to slay the rap game despite being one of the only females. To date, she now has a total of 10 Grammy nominations, 3 MTV Video Music Aawards, 2 People’s Choice Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 19 BET Awards, and 4 Billboard Music Awards. And with a new album about to drop and tour about to kick off, the rap queen still reigns.

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