Nicki Minaj Biography

In the beginning, there was Onika...


Nicki Minaj combines the gritty with the glossy. She often blends pop and rap, streets and charts. Visit any of her albums and you'll find a healthy mix of straight-up rap songs and syrupy radio hits.

Minaj has a wide range of influences, including Jay Z, Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown and Lil Wayne.

Humble Beginnings in Trinidad and Tobago

Nicki Minaj is one of the most important rappers of our generation. Before she became a global pop figure, Minaj was a kid in the streets of Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. Her family would later migrate to the United States.

There, Nicki found a new home. She was raised in South Jamaica, Queens, the same hood that bred 50 Cent. And if you know anything about Queens, then you know that it breeds warriors. Indeed, Nicki would go on to conquer the charts and dominate hip-hop.

Minaj has a background in the performing arts, having honed her skills at NYC's Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art. Her performing arts skills come in handy at her live shows. She's an expert at mesmerizing crowds and knows how to connect with her audience.

Music Career

Nicki Minaj started off by singing background vocals for local rappers in New York. Like many aspiring artists in search of a big break, she uploaded her music to MySpace (remember that site?). That was probably the most important move she ever made.

Dirty Money Entertainment head honcho Fendi spotted Nicki Minaj's music on the social networking site and was instantly sold. Fendi alerted hip-hop megastar Lil Wayne to Minaj's potential. Shortly after, she was signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment.

Following that, she worked the mixtape circuit ferociously. She popped up on various songs, videos, mixtapes, and albums. She released three mixtapes in three years.

One feature that stands about the rest is her turn on Kanye West's "Monster." In fact, Nicki was so impressive, so memorable that it's hard to remember any other verse from that collaborative track. And we're talking about a song that also featured Rick Ross, Kanye West and Jay Z.

After years of buzz, her debut LP, Pink Friday, finally arrived on November 22, 2010. Once again, Nicki proved that she could go bar for bar with some of the best in the game. She delivered a strong performance next to Eminem on "Roman's Revenge."

Fast Facts

  • Born: Onika Maraj
  • Birthday: December 8, 1982
  • Hometown: Jamaica, Queens, NY
  • Nicknames: Harajuku Barbie, Nicki Lewinsky

Nicki Minaj's Discography


  • 2007: Playtime Is Over
  • 2008: Sucka Free
  • 2009: Beam Me Up Scotty


  • Pink Friday (2010)
  • Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)
  • The Pinkprint (2014)