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Influenced by the unpredictable rhymes of Missy Elliot along with the sexually charged attitudes of Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, Queens native Nicki Minaj was discovered thanks to her MySpace page. It was there that Dirty Money Entertainment CEO Fendi first heard her ability to freestyle and first laid eyes on her steamy set of promo shots. With killer curves she was obviously proud to flaunt, plus a background in the performing arts thanks to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art (the school that had inspired the movie Fame), Minaj was a perfect fit for Fendi's urban DVD magazine The Come Up. She appeared in numerous volumes, including number 11, which spotlighted her future label boss, superstar rapper Lil Wayne. Through Fendi, Wayne contacted Minaj and signed her to his Young Money label. They began to build her career through mixtapes like Lil Wayne's Dedication 3 and Minaj's own Sucka Free. Meanwhile, appearances on various remixes -- everything from T.I.'s "No Matter What" to Jeffree Star's club track "Cupcakes Taste Like Violence" -- helped spread the word.
The big breakthrough for Minaj came when Wayne added his rhymes to her "High as a Kite" single, a mixtape favorite in 2008. The year 2009 would see more guest appearances and mixtapes, including the Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, featuring the street single "I Get Crazy." In 2010, the singles "Your Love" and "Check It Out" preceded the release of her official debut album, Pink Friday, which debuted that November at number two on the Billboard 200 and went platinum. She earned a handful of 2011 Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. An all-out media blitz followed between albums with extravagant performances at award shows across the globe, an appearance as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, and joining Madonna -- alongside M.I.A. -- for her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show.
In early 2012, the Eurodance-influenced single "Starships" signaled the coming of her official sophomore effort, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, an album built around her devil-may-care alter ego "Roman Zolanski." Guest artists included Nas, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, and Beenie Man, while production came from the likes of RedOne, Dr. Luke, and Ke'Noe. The album hit number one on the U.S. album charts, driven by a Top Ten showing for "Starships." "Pound the Alarm," and "Va Va Voom" also reached the Top 40. By the end of 2012, Minaj had been announced as a judge for the twelfth season of American Idol, although she left at the end of the season. It hardly affected her success, as she set two career records during 2013: most-charted female rapper in the history of Billboard's singles chart, and the first person to win Best Female Hip-Hop Artist at the BET Awards four times in a row. She also announced that her third studio album, tentatively titled The Pink Print, would appear in 2014. First single "Lookin Ass" featured on the Young Money compilation Rise of an Empire, released in March.
Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj (/ɪˈɑːʒ/), is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Minaj earned public attention after releasing three mixtapes between 2007–2009. She signed a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment in 2009.
Minaj's debut studio album, Pink Friday (2010), peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spawned the top-three single "Super Bass". During that time, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), also topped the chart and its lead single, "Starships", peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj's 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 United States to date. Minaj made her film debut in the 2012 animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also had a supporting role in the 2014 film The Other Woman. In 2013, she was a main judge on the twelfth season of American Idol.
Minaj was the first female artist included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List, with The New York Times saying that some consider her "the most influential female rapper of all time". Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow and the use of alter egos and accents, primarily British cockney. Minaj's 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. Minaj has endorsed Adidas, MAC Cosmetics and Pepsi. She has won four American Music Awards, eight BET Awards, two MTV Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Award, five Billboard Music Awards and Billboard 's 2011 Rising Star award."Nicki Minaj Biography". The Biography Channel. Retrieved April 22, 2013. Ramirez, Erika (December 8, 2012). "A Nicki Minaj Birthday Card, from Billboard". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 9, 2012. "Nicki Minaj - Biography". Biography.com. Retrieved April 16, 2015. "Nicki Minaj: American rap singer and songwriter". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 16, 2015. Staples, Brent. "Nicki Minaj Crashes Hip-Hop's Boys Club". The New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
Onika Tanya Maraj was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 1982. Her parents are Robert Maraj, a financial executive of half Indo-Trinidadian and half Afro-Trinidadian ancestry, and Carol Maraj, who is of Afro-Trinidadian heritage, and held a variety of jobs including an accounting clerk, foreign-exchange teller and gospel singer. Minaj's father was addicted to alcohol and other drugs, had a violent temper; he attempted to kill her mother by setting their house on fire. She has two siblings.
As a small child, Minaj lived with her grandmother in Saint James and was occasionally visited by her mother, with whom she moved with to Queens, New York, at age five. Minaj said that her upbringing lacked discipline, which made her "seek out and practice self-discipline". She attended PS 45 (the Clarence Witherspoon School) and Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet, for her elementary education. Minaj successfully auditioned for admission to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, which focuses on visual and performing arts, where she studied acting. After graduation, Minaj wanted to become an actress, and she was cast in the Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001. When her acting career failed to take off, at age 19 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.Cite error: The named reference Biography was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "What Race Is Nicki Minaj? Black Or Indian? Parents Robert & Carol Maraj’s Ethnicity, Nationality". Arogundade.com. Retrieved November 16, 2014. "Carol Maraj". Trinidad Express Newspapers. Caribbean Communications Network. Retrieved July 29, 2013. "Character Study: Just How Real Is Nicki Minaj?". Vibe. Retrieved July 29, 2013. Scott, Tracy. "Nicki Minaj advises parents to parent". S2 Magazine. Interactive One. Retrieved July 29, 2013. "Character Study: Just How Real Is Nicki Minaj?". Vibe. Retrieved August 28, 2010. "Nicki Minaj Tells All in Her New E! Special". Desihits. Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Does Jay Leno Performance, Discusses Red Lobster Job". Vibe. Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Nicki Minaj: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard. Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Documentary on E!". Dailymotion. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
ContentsCareer1.1 2007–09: Career beginnings1.2 2010–11: Breakthrough with Pink Friday1.3 2012–13: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and American Idol1.4 2014–present: The Other Woman and The Pinkprint
2007–09: 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"), 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. Minaj 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 2 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".
2010–11: 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 has been certified octuple-platinum in the U.S. Minaj credited the song's initial exposure to its mention by Taylor Swift. 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.
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 the song was "everyone who has been in interviews talking" because "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.
2012–13: 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. 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. 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. 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–present: 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." "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. In support of the album, Minaj embarked on her third international concert tour entitled The Pinkprint Tour.
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 lyric video for her third single "Only", with visualizations inspired by the Nazi Regime and the work of Leni Riefenstahl. There was immediate backlash from fans, calling the video anti-semitic and insensitive. The Anti Defamation League 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." The ADL called the "Only" video "insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler's Nazi juggernaut."
Minaj performed at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on August 24, 2014. On November 9, 2014, Minaj hosted the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards at the 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 & Ariana Grande,at the 2015 Grammy Awards. In March 2015, Minaj made history as the first female artist to chart four songs simultaneously in the top 10 of Billboard's Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart.Hip Hop (September 12, 2010). "LOU$TAR- H.O.O.D.S.T.A.R.S Feat. Nicki Minaj & 7even-up | LISTEN". Defpenradio. Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Nicki Minaj As A "Hoodstar" Before The Glitz, The T*ts, The Glam, And The Cakes!". Bossip. Molguldom Media Group. July 19, 2010. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Big Fendi Calls Nicki Minaj "a Groupie"". "Nicki Minaj: On The Rise". Rose, Lilah (July 10, 2007). 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If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH "Reviews for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded by Nicki Minaj". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Nicki Minaj And Cover Drive's New Songs Join Capital FM Playlist (15th June)". Capital. June 15, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "12 September 2012". BBC Radio 1. BBC. September 12, 2012. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2014. Wass, Mike (May 16, 2012). "Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday World Tour Pops Open In Sydney: Concert Review". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved August 14, 2014. Daniels, Colin (July 5, 2012). "Nicki Minaj extends UK arena tour". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Nicki Minaj Defends Her Decision to Drop Out of Hot 97 Summer Jam Concert". OK!. Northern & Shell. June 5, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2014. Harp, Justin (July 4, 2012). "Nicki Minaj: 'Ice Age 4 is a blessing and an honor'". Digital Spy. 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Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Mariah Carey Felt 'Unsafe' After 'Idol' Feud With Nicki Minaj". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, LLC. January 8, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. Carlson, Erin (May 2, 2013). "Nicki Minaj Slams Mariah Carey as 'Bitter,' 'Insecure'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey Leaving 'American Idol'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, LLC. May 31, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Weekly Chart Notes: Nicki Minaj Matches Mariah Carey's Hot 100 Mark". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. April 12, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Winners List-Billboard Music Awards 2013 (BBMA Winners)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Nicki Minaj, Miguel, Kendrick Lamar win at BET Awards". Fox News. 21st Century Fox. June 30, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2014. "Nicki Minaj to make movie debut in new Cameron Diaz comedy". NME: Film & TV. IPC Media. April 29, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Kit, Borys (April 25, 2013). "Nicki Minaj Makes Film Debut in Cameron Diaz's 'The Other Woman'". The Hollywood Reporter (The Hollywood Reporter). Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Nicki Minaj 'To Star in Movie with Brad Pitt'". MTV News. Viacom. April 18, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Ramirez, Erika (May 28, 2013). "Nicki Minaj Will 'Focus On Rap' For Upcoming Album". Billboardbiz: Articles. Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Loren, Arielle (November 30, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Says Third Album Will Be an Extension of The Re-Up". BET. Retrieved January 11, 2013. Markham, Rob (November 4, 2013). "Nicki Minaj 'Delving Into Deep Sh--' on 2014 Album". Viacom International Inc. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Nicki Minaj Reveals 'Pills N Potions' Single at Billboard Music Awards". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. "Nicki Minaj Previews Steamy 'Anaconda' Video, Unleashes Full Track". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2014. "Nicki Minaj Chart History". Billboard. "Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda' Video Breaks Vevo Record". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2014. "Nicki Minaj Wins For Best Female Hip Hop Artist At The BET Awards — But Her Acceptance Speech Will Give You Pause For More Than One Reason! Watch Here!". Perez Hilton. Retrieved July 1, 2014. Stutz, Colin. "Watch Nicki Minaj's Totalitarian 'Only' Lyric Video With Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2014. Drakeford, Cortney. "New Song 'Only' Racist to Jewish People: Drake Dresses as Priest as Chris Brown Plays Nazi Soldier in MUSIC." Fashion Times. November 10, 2014. "Grammys 2015: List of nominees" Los Angeles Times. December 5, 2014. "Nicki Minaj the First Woman With 4 Simultaneous Top 10 Hits on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Chart". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
ContentsArtistry1.1 Image1.2 Musical style1.3 Alter egos1.4 Influences
Minaj's figure has been noted by the media. 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.
Minaj has been called the "black Lady Gaga" because of her costumes and wigs but has rejected the comparison, citing 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". 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. She was invited to sit with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week to see designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.
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. There, in public appearances and interviews Minaj calls her fans "Barbs" collectively and her male heterosexual and LGBT followers "boys" and "Ken Barbs" respectively (alluding to her Barbie persona). She deleted her Twitter account for eight days in April 2012 after a dispute with fans who leaked snippets from her then-unreleased album. Minaj lost about nine million of her 11 million followers at the time. In 2013 Minaj introduced a more "natural" look, including less-colorful makeup and wigs, during later episodes of American Idol to be taken more seriously.
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 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 hits including "Super Bass". Also combining rap with synthesizer music, Minaj's second album had a number of electropop songs: "HOV Lane", "Whip It", "Automatic", "Come On A Cone", "Young Forever", and "Fire Burns", and the Billboard hits "Roman Holiday" and "Beez in the Trap". She collaborated with other artists, producing more electronic hits: "The Boys" with "Me & U" singer Cassie and "Beauty and a Beat" with Justin Bieber.
Her verse in Kanye West's "Monster" was appreciated by critics, who 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."
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 ), 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. and Cyndi Lauper. 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.
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 of all time. 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."Medina, Portia (April 27, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Premieres Sexy 'Starships' Clip". The Hollywood Reporter (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved May 19, 2012. "Nicki Minaj & Friends Cover Vibe Magazine". Vibe. Vibe Media. June 2, 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2013. Rachel, T. Cole (April 2010). "Nicki Minaj". Interview Magazine. Retrieved July 19, 2010. "Nicki Minaj: "I Think Boobs Are Very Empowering"". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved August 21, 2012. Simon, Hattenstone (April 27, 2012). "Nicki Minaj: 'I have bigger balls than the boys'". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved August 21, 2012. 4 October 2012 12:47 pm Updated: 4 October 2012 1:21 pm (April 10, 2012). "Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga Comparison: 'Getting Tired'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 2, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Interview – Celebrity Style". Teen Vogue. Retrieved August 14, 2012. Gregoire, Carolyn (October 5, 2011). "Nicki Minaj's Most Memorable Moments". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2012. "Nicki Minaj's fashion extends to Zebra-print body...". Yahoo! UK. Retrieved August 14, 2012. Nika, Colleen. "Nicki Minaj Wows Fashion World With Versace for H&M and Victoria's Secret Gigs". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved August 19, 2012. "Anna Wintour invited Nicki Minaj to Carolina Herera, Oscar de la Renta fashion shows this season". Daily News (New York). Retrieved August 19, 2012. "Nick Minaj – Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 20, 2012. Gipson, Brooklyne (May 1, 2012). "Nicki Minaj: Most Followed Rapper on Twitter". BET: News: Music. BET Interactive, LLC. Retrieved November 21, 2013. Hawgood, Alex (October 5, 2011). "Scratching the Celebrity Itch". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved November 21, 2013. |chapter= ignored (help) "Nicki Minaj resurrects Twitter account eight days after deletion". NME: News. IPC Media. April 24, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2013. "Nicki Minaj returns to Twitter but loses followers". BBC Radio 1: Newsbeat: Music. BBC. April 25, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2013. Mahlmeister, Chrissy (November 1, 2013). "We're Loving Nicki Minaj's New, Simplified Style For 2013". Viacom International, Inc. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Wilson, Julee (March 14, 2013). "Nicki Minaj ELLE Cover, Singer Debuts New Dramatically Toned-Down Look For The April 2013 Issue". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Cite error: The named reference billboard1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Caramanica, Jon (March 30, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Is the Influential Leader of Hip-Hop". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2012. Nigel D. (July 7, 2012). "Nicki Minaj Speaks On Her Rap Style | RealTalkNY". Realtalkny.uproxx.com. Retrieved August 2, 2012. Rogulewski, Charley. "Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded' Album Track-by-Track Preview". The Boom Box. AOL. Retrieved November 3, 2012. Newstead, Al. "Nicki Minaj : Pink Friday Review". Beat. Furst Media. Retrieved November 3, 2012. Bain, Becky. "Nicki Minaj's 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded' Leaks: Listen". Idolator. Spin Media. Retrieved November 3, 2012. Jeffries, David. "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded - Review". Allmusic. Rovi. Retrieved November 3, 2012. Rosen, Jody (April 6, 2012). "Nicki Minaj". Rolling Stone: Reviews. Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Lipshutz, Jason (June 13, 2012). "Justin Bieber, 'Believe': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 25, 2012. "3 Reasons Nicki Minaj Crushes All The Boys On Kanye West's "Monster"". Vibe. August 31, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2012. Sowmya Krishnamurthy (June 11, 2012). "QA: Ice-T on 'The Art of Rap,' Why Nicki Minaj Is 'Real Hip-Hop' | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 3, 2012. Lizzy Goodman (June 20, 2010). "Nicki Minaj, the Rapper With a Crush on Meryl Streep". New York. Retrieved July 22, 2010. "Nicki Minaj Has Healing Powers". Rap-Up. November 18, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2011. "Nicki Minaj Introduces New Alter Ego". Rap-Up. December 6, 2010. Retrieved February 16, 2011. Sandra Rose (July 14, 2010). "Was That Nicki Minaj's Alter Ego in the Now Classic "Ate the Box" Video?". Retrieved July 22, 2010. Dawson, Imani A. "Nicki Minaj Gets 'Revenge' With Eminem". Rap-Up. Retrieved November 4, 2010. Vena, Jocelyn (February 13, 2012). "Nicki Minaj's Alter Ego Roman Zolanski Makes Grammy Debut – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved May 27, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Turns Heads In London". Blogs To Die For. January 20, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2011. DAT1GH3TTOKID (November 1, 2010). "Roman's Revenge - Nicki Minaj & Eminem [With Lyrics]". YouTube. YouTube. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Farber, Jim (April 3, 2012). "Nicki Minaj, 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded |". Daily News (New York). Retrieved April 14, 2012. User (March 22, 2012). "Now You're in the Parade". Retrieved May 5, 2012. Baines, Clarke Gail (May 29, 2013). "Despite their past beef, Nicki Minaj still calls Lil Kim a major influence in her career; also a big ups Missy and Left-Eye". Madame Noire. Moguldom Media Group. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Nicki Minaj Interview With Vibe (Speaks On Wayne As An Influence)". New Lil Wayne. June 28, 2009. 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"Nicki Minaj calls Foxy Brown "The Most Influential Female Rapper"". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved August 23, 2012. Ziegbe, Mawuse (June 27, 2010). "Nicki Minaj Dedicates BET Award To Lil Wayne, Shouts Out Female Rappers – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved August 3, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Surprises Atlanta With Young Jeezy, Monica, Lil Scrappy, Bobby V, Waka & T.I.". ATL Night Spots. July 23, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2012. Banks, Thembi (December 3, 2010). "Exclusive: Nicki Minaj on Image, Criticism and Success". Essence. Retrieved August 3, 2012. Garibaldi, Christina (September 13, 2011). "Nicki Minaj Is Betsey Johnson's 'Most Favorite Girl'". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Wenn (February 17, 2012). "Nicki Minaj - Nicki Minaj's Style Inspired By Cyndi Lauper". Contact Music. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
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.
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 moscato 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 LA 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."Nicki Minaj Launches "Pink 4 Friday" Lipstick With MAC Costmetics". Hello Beautiful. November 23, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Unveils Casio TRYX Digital Camera in Times Square". Complex. April 8, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Reveals OPI Nail Polish Collection". MTV News. October 21, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Barbie® Introduces Her Minajesty!". charitybuzz. Retrieved August 3, 2012. "Nicki Minaj: Barbie Doll a 'Very Major Moment' for Me". Billboard. Retrieved May 27, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Helps Launch Nokia Lumia 900 In Times Square". Universal Music. Retrieved August 14, 2012. "Nicki Minaj's Pepsi Ad: Company Debuts 3-D 'Now In A Moment' Commercial". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2012. "Nicki Minaj: 'Beyonce Gave Me Inspiration To Do Pepsi Advert'". TaleTela. Retrieved May 27, 2012. Rodriguez, Cindy Y. "Nicki Minaj And Ricky Martin Promote MAC Viva Glam, Bring HIV/AIDS Awareness To Latin America". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2012. White, Belinda. "MAC VIVA GLAM sales raise $250 million for AIDS Fund". Telegraph.co (Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved November 21, 2013. Sanchez, Karizza. "Nicki Minaj Signs Endorsement Deal With adidas". Complex Media. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Mangum, Ade. "NIcki Minaj, Big Sean Star In Adidas Commercial With Jeremy Scott". MTV News. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Adam Levine And Nicki Minaj To Launch New Clothing And Accessory Range For Kmart". Capital FM. Retrieved January 17, 2013. "Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine Launch Huge New Retail Lines". New York Post. Retrieved January 17, 2013. Brandle, Lars. "Adele, Nicki Minaj & Robbie Williams Take Comic Turn". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Beats By Dr. Dre Portable Pill Speaker Now Pretty In Pink, Compliments of Superstar Nicki Minaj, Exclusively From AT&T". Beats Electronics LLC. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Gleckman, Alexander. "Watch Nicki Minaj Behind the Scenes at Her "Pink Pill Commercial"". Complex Media. Retrieved November 20, 2013. Markman, Rob. "Will Nicki Minaj Ditch 'Pink' In Her 'New Era'?". MTV News. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Nicki Minaj, maybe 'Idol' judge, unveils new fragrance". CNN Entertainment (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.). Retrieved August 21, 2012. "New Nicki Minaj Fragrance: ‘Pink Friday Special Edition'". The Honesty Hour. Retrieved March 16, 2013. "Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday: Deluxe Edition". "Nicki Minaj Dropping New "Minajesty" Fragrance". Hip-Hop Wired. Retrieved July 29, 2013. "Nicki Minaj's Barbz gets a sophisticated makeover for new ONIKA perfume". "Nicki Minaj Becomes New Face Of Roberto Cavalli". Forbes. Retrieved December 18, 2014. Flanagan, Andrew. "It's Official: Jay Z's Historic Tidal Launches With 16 Artist Stakeholders". Billboard. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
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 is a Christian, and 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". Minaj began dating rapper Meek Mill, after rumors of a relationship circulated after her breakup, Mills confirmed the relationship on April 12, 2015. They announced their engagement on April 16, 2015.O'Malley Greenburg, Zack. "Cash Kings 2011: Hip-Hop's Top Earners". Forbes: Media & Entertainment (Forbes.com LLC). Greenburg, Zack. "Cash Kings 2012: Hip-Hop's Top Earners". Forbes: Media & Entertainment (Forbes.com LLC). Retrieved September 5, 2012. O'Malley Greenburg, Zack. "Cash Kings 2013: The World's Highest-Paid Hip-Hop Artists". Forbes: Media & Entertainment. Retrieved November 20, 2013. O'Malley Greenburg, Zack. "Cash Kings 2014: The World's Highest-Paid Hip-Hop Acts". Forbes: Media & Entertainment. Forbes.com LLC. Retrieved October 2, 2014. "Nicki Minaj Donates $15,000 To Aid New York Hunger Charity". Contact Music: News. Retrieved November 20, 2013. "Nicki Minaj Says 'Church' Saved Her Family, Calls 'God' Her Hero". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 30, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Tweets About Jesus Christ on Christmas". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 30, 2012. Hattenstone, Simon. "Nicki Minaj: 'I have bigger balls than the boys'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 30, 2012. "Rap star Nicki Minaj's cousin shot dead in Brooklyn". New York Post. Retrieved February 20, 2012. "Nicki Minaj Mourns Cousin Nicholas Telemaque's Death". MTV News. Retrieved April 7, 2012. Kreps, Daniel. "Watch Nicki Minaj's Breakup-Inspired 'Pinkprint Movie'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 20, 2014. "Nicki Minaj Raps About Teenage Abortion in "All Things Go": Listen - Us Weekly". US Magazine.com. Retrieved December 19, 2014. "Meek Mill Confirms Relationship With Nicki Minaj". Vibe. "Nicki Minaj Confirms Engagement to Meek Mill With Pic of Giant Heart-Shaped Ring—All the Details on Her 15-Carat Diamond!". April 16, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2015.