Onika Tanya Maraj born December 8, 1982), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj , is a recording artist signed to Young Money Entertainment. She was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, but moved to the Queens borough of New York City at age five.
She attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet. She graduated from LaGuardia High School. At LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts, Minaj participated in the drama program. She had initially planned to sing at LaGuardia, but lost her voice on the day of the audition. She once worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in the Bronx.
Minaj began her music career in 2007 after she released her first mixtape Playtime Is Over. The mixtape was followed by the mixtapes Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty which were released in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Minaj had her first label success after fellow American rapper, Lil Wayne discovered and secured a record deal with her with Young Money Entertainment with distribution from Universal Motown Records In August 2009.
She released her debut album, Pink Friday in 2010 which became a commercial success, peaking at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200. and was later certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release. She became the first artist ever to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. Her second single, "Your Love", reached number-one on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, making Minaj the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002, which was previously held by Missy Elliott's song Work It.She also became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List.
That connection led Minaj to Lil Wayne, who collaborated with her on a series of mix tapes, the first of which, Playtime is Over, was released in April 2007. The recording, and subsequent mixed tapes, showcased Minaj's female swagger and out-front style.
By early 2010, considerable anticipation had built up around Minaj's much discussed, much covered debut album, which was scheduled for release that fall. In April of that year, she released her first single, "Massive Attack." Two months later she won Best Hip-Hop Female at the annual BET Awards. She dedicated the award to Lil Wayne.
Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010. A buzz single, "Massive Attack", was released in April. In August, Minaj released "Your Love" as the first official single from her debut album. The single peaked at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and topped the Rap Songs chart. Minaj became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List and the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. In October 2010, Minaj became the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously. Minaj released a joint single with The Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am titled, "Check It Out", which is Minaj's most successful single to-date around Europe. "Right thru Me" was released September 24, 2010. Written by Stephen Hacker, Joe Satriani, Andrew Thielk, B.Evans and Minaj herself. The music video was released in late October, which featured Minaj in a boy-and-girl relationship drama. "Moment 4 Life" followed "Right thru Me" and was released as the fourth overall single. The track featured Canadian rapper, Drake, which was released on December 7, 2010, which is proving to be as successful in the Billboard Hot 100, as it is climbing each week and currently at number 22. The single has so far peaked at number 5 on the Hot Rap Songs Minaj's album gained a Platinum certification in the United States a month after the release.
Minaj has stated that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill, Jadakiss, Natasha Bedingfield, Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim and Missy Elliott. She was also inspired by Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones and Cyndi Lauper.