Nicki Minaj

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About Nicki Minaj

Few artists have impacted 21st-century rap like Nicki Minaj. Born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago in 1982 but raised mostly in Queens, Minaj attended Manhattan’s prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the inspiration for the movie Fame) before trying to make it as an actor—a past evidenced by the deep performative streak that runs through her music today. Turning to rap in her twenties, Minaj quickly became one of the brightest stars in Lil Wayne’s Young Money universe. Her work—shape-shifting, ferocious, cartoonish and often filled with oddball voices and alter egos—is as capable of breaking hearts (“Super Bass”) as it is detaching heads (her breakout verse on Kanye West’s 2010 “Monster”, in which she arguably outshined both West and fellow guest JAY-Z). Minaj’s electrifying presence has also made her a secret weapon in the pop world, where she’s just as likely to share credits with David Guetta and Justin Bieber as Ludacris and Future. On top of her own success, Minaj helped rap—and rap audiences—look past narratives of gritty realism for something fluid and playful but no less genuine or powerful. Railing against the double standard faced by women in entertainment, the outspoken Minaj once told MTV: “You have to be a beast. That’s the only way they respect you.” She continued showing the virtues of beast mode throughout the 2010s and 2020s, unloading dynamic projects like Pink Friday ... Roman Reloaded (2012), The Pinkprint (2014), Queen (2018) and Pink Friday 2 (2023). With each release, Minaj blended sharp pop instincts with the skills of a seasoned rap technician. And with her collaborations alongside the likes of Ice Spice and BIA, she has cannily bridged her generation and theirs—a Queen for all seasons.

Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
8 December 1982
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