Born December 8, 1982, Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, is a Trinidadian-American rapper, actress, singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur.
Nicki was discovered by Lil Wayne via her mixtapes Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty, and broke into the mainstream as an artist signed to Wayne’s label Young Money Entertainment. Her first successful songs, “Your Love,” “Moment 4 Life” (with Drake), and the smash-hit “Super Bass,” are featured on her 2010 chart-topping debut album Pink Friday.
She continued her run with her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which contained “Starships,” a song which would further develop Nicki’s pop/rap style. “Starships” gave Nicki a Billboard milestone, when it charted for 21 weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, a feat no other artist has achieved without the aid of streaming services.
In between the releases of her second and third albums, Nicki starred as a judge on American Idol, and released a reissue of her second album in November 2012, filling it with ten new hip-hop tracks and promoting it throughout the following year.
On December 12, 2014, Nicki released her third studio album The Pinkprint. For this project, she abandoned her “Pop facade” and expanded not only on her ever-changing flows and thickened, denser delivery, but also on her subject matter and lyrical content. On the album, she delves into new depths with themes of vulnerability, relationship distress/abuse, betrayal, near-death experiences, motherhood, suicide attempts, drug addiction, abortion, murder, responsibility, female empowerment, sexual allegations, and entitlement. It is her longest-charting studio album to date, and housed numerous hit singles, including the pop culture phenomenon “Anaconda.”
Almost four years later, on August 10, 2018, Nicki released her fourth studio album, Queen. The album became Nicki’s most rap-oriented album to date, but also managed to incorporate R&B and Pop elements, much like Minaj’s previous effort. On Queen, Nicki defends her high position in the Hip-hop community, jabs at her top critics, reminds her listeners of her wealth and power, playfully disses her peers, and opens up about her recent love life, all in sixty-six minutes.
Nicki’s collaborations are also notable, particularly “Bang Bang” with Jessie J and Ariana Grande, the numerous collaborations with Young Money’s “Big Three” (Nicki, Lil Wayne, and Drake), and “Monster,” a collaboration with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and others, from Kanye West’s fifth album. Minaj’s verse on the song is praised by critics and is also known for sparking Nicki’s fan base. On May 1, 2020, Doja Cat recruited Nicki for their “Say So (Remix),”
which peaked at #1 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, and became the first collaboration between two female rappers to top the chart.
As of mid-2020, Nicki has charted 110 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, the most for a female artist and the fourth-most out of all artists. She has garnered ten Grammy award nominations and fourteen MTV Video Music Award nominations, winning five of the latter. She has 113 million RIAA certified units, comprised of mostly singles with 8.5 million albums sold.