Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty (néeMaraj; born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj (/nɪkiˈmɪˈnɑːʒ/nick-EE min-AHZH), is a Trinidadian-born[a] rapper, singer, and songwriter. She is known for her musical versatility, animated
flow in her rapping,
alter egos and accents. Minaj first gained recognition after releasing
three mixtapes between 2007 and 2009.
Her debut album, Pink Friday (2010), topped the U.S.
Billboard 200 chart. Its fifth single, "
Super Bass", reached number three on the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified
diamond by the
RIAA. Minaj's follow-up album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) explored
dance-pop. The lead single, "
Starships", peaked in the top five worldwide. Her third album, The Pinkprint (2014) explored more personal topics and marked a return to her
hip hop roots. Its second single, "
Anaconda" peaked at number two on the Hot 100 and became the first music video by a solo female rapper to reach one billion views on
YouTube. She released her fourth album,
Queen, in 2018 and it spawned the U.S. top ten single
"Chun-Li". In 2019, her collaboration with
Karol G, "
Tusa", became the longest-running number-one single on the
Argentina Hot 100 chart. Minaj achieved her first two Hot 100 number-one singles in 2020 with "
Say So" and "
Trollz", and her third with the lead single of her forthcoming fifth studio album, "
Super Freaky Girl" in 2022. The latter became the third solo song by a female rapper to debut at number one in the U.S. since 1998.
Referred to as the "
Queen of Rap", Minaj is one of the
best-selling music artists, with more than 100 million records sold worldwide. Billboard ranked her as the top selling female rapper of the 2010s. Minaj has twenty-two top 10 singles on the chart, the most for any female rapper, with six of those being solo songs. In 2017, Minaj broke the record for most Hot 100 entries by any female artist, surpassing
Aretha Franklin, and in 2018, she became the first female artist to accumulate 100 entries on the Hot 100.
Onika Tanya Maraj was born on December 8, 1982, in the
Saint James district of
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Her father was Robert Maraj (1956–2021), a financial executive and part-time gospel singer of
Afro-Trinidadian mother and
Indo-Trinidadian father) descent. Her mother, Carol Maraj, is also a gospel singer with Afro-Trinidadian ancestry. Carol worked in payroll and accounting departments during Minaj's youth. Minaj's father was
addicted to alcohol and
crack cocaine and had a violent temper, burning down their house in December 1987. She has an older brother named Jelani, a younger brother named Micaiah, and a younger sister named Ming.
As a child, Minaj and her older brother, Jelani, grew up with her grandmother in Saint James in a household with 11 cousins. Minaj's mother, Carol Maraj, was working numerous jobs in Saint James before getting her
green card at the age of 24. She then moved to
the Bronx in New York City to attend
Monroe College, leaving both Minaj and Jelani in Trinidad with their grandmother. Eventually, when Minaj was five, Carol got her first house, on 147th Street in
South Jamaica, Queens and brought both Minaj and Jelani to live with her and their father. Minaj recalled, "I don't think I had a lot of discipline in my household. My mom motivated me, but it wasn't a strict household. I kind of wanted a strict household." Minaj successfully auditioned for admission to
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, which focuses on visual and performing arts. After graduation, Minaj wanted to become an actress, and she was cast in the
Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001.
Minaj has revealed that she had an abortion as a teenager in her songs "
All Things Go" and "
Autobiography". She has said that although it has "haunted" her, she stands by her decision. At the age of 19, as she struggled with her acting career, she worked as a waitress at a
Red Lobster in the Bronx, but was fired for discourtesy to customers. She said she was fired from "at least 15 jobs" for similar reasons. Other jobs included
customer service representative and
office management on
Wall Street. Minaj recalls buying a
BMW as a 19-year-old with the money from waitressing.
2004–2009: Career beginnings and mixtapes
Minaj briefly signed with
Full Force, in which she rapped in a quartet called
The Hoodstars composed of Lou$tar (son of "
Safaree Samuels (Scaff Beezy) and 7even Up. In 2004, the group recorded the entrance song for
WWE DivaVictoria, "Don't Mess With", which was featured on the compilation album ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol.6. Minaj later left Full Force and uploaded songs on her
Myspace profile, sending several of her songs to people in the
music industry. Later, 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 eventually 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!"
In October, Minaj was featured on
Kanye West's "
posse cut with
Rick Ross featuring vocals from
Justin Vernon of
Bon Iver. Her verse received widespread acclaim with many critics regarding it as the best verse on that song.
Complex rated Minaj's "Monster" verse as the number-one best rap verse in the past five years, while Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice stated that "Monster" was "the track that announced Minaj's "brilliance" to most people." Shortly after, she performed "Monster" with West and Jay-Z at
Yankee Stadium, becoming the first ever female rapper to perform there. In November 2010, Minaj received her first
Grammy Award nomination for her guest verse on
Ludacris' song "
My Chick Bad".
Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010, debuting at number two and later reaching number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 375,000 copies. It had the highest sales week for a female rap album this century and second highest sales week overall after
Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998). Upon release, the album received generally positive reviews from critics. The album was certified
platinum in December, with it becoming the first album by a solo female rapper to go platinum in seven years. "
Moment 4 Life" featuring
Drake was released as the fourth single from Pink Friday shortly after the album's release. The song served as the third single off the album, released as a single on December 7, 2010. Minaj performed "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life" as the musical guest on the January 29, 2011, episode of Saturday Night Live.
Super Bass", the album's fifth single, was released in April 2011. It became a
sleeper hit and commercially successful, ultimately peaking at number three in the U.S. and was eventually certified diamond in the U.S. Super Bass was at the time the highest-charting solo single by a female rapper since
Missy Elliott's "
Work It" in 2002. The music video has over 965 million views on YouTube as of March 2023. Early in her career, Minaj identified as
bisexual and made several references to it in her music. However, she eventually stated in a 2010 Rolling Stone interview, "I think girls are sexy, but I'm not going to lie and say that I date girls." She once again addressed her sexuality in 2020 on
Doja Cat's "
Say So" remix. The lyrics divided members of the
LGBT community, with some accusing her of "
bisexual erasure" while others voicing there is nothing wrong with originally identifying as bisexual, and then later identifying as straight.
Minaj's first live-action theatrical film The Other Woman was filmed in spring 2013 and premiered on April 25, 2014. In late 2014, Minaj separated from her longtime boyfriend
Safaree Samuels, whom she had dated since 2003.[b] According to Minaj, he had proposed to her, but she declined. Several tracks on her forthcoming third album, The Pinkprint, are believed to have been heavily inspired by the end of their relationship. Minaj began dating rapper
Meek Mill in early 2015, shortly after her breakup with Samuels. As she was working on The Pinkprint, she described the album 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 additionally said that it would be "next level" and that she has "much to talk about".
Pills n Potions" was released as the lead single from The Pinkprint in May 2014. In July, she appeared as a featured artist on the song "
Bang Bang" with singers
Jessie J and
Ariana Grande, which peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. "
Anaconda" was released in August as the second single from the album, peaking at number two, which became her highest-charting single in the U.S. at the time. The music video for "Anaconda" went
viral upon release online; it 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". On November 9, 2014, Minaj hosted the
2014 MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow, Scotland. She also won the Best Hip-Hop Award for a second time.The Pinkprint was officially released on December 15, 2014, and debuted at number two in the U.S, with first week sales of 244,000 equivalent units (198,000 in pure album sales and 46,000 combined album-equivalent units and
streams). Upon release, critics praised the production and personal lyrics.
In February 2017, Minaj was featured on Jason Derulo's single "
Swalla" which reached the top ten in several countries, including a peak of number six in the UK. The following month, Minaj signed with the major modeling agency,
Wilhelmina Models. In March 2017, when her singles "
No Frauds", "
Changed It", and "
Regret in Your Tears" were released simultaneously, Minaj broke the record for the most Billboard Hot 100 entries for a female artist, which at the time was previously held by
Aretha Franklin. In May 2017, Minaj opened the
2017 Billboard Music Awards with a medley performance that was described by Elias Leight of Rolling Stone as "flamboyantly produced" and "dexterous".
Throughout the remainder of 2017, Minaj performed guest verses on several singles, including
Yo Gotti's "
Rake It Up", both of which peaked inside the top ten in the U.S. at numbers six and eight, respectively. She also featured on
Katy Perry's "
Swish Swish", which was certified platinum in the US and Canada. In January 2017, she announced that she had ended her relationship with Meek Mill. Shortly after, she briefly dated fellow rapper
Nas in 2017 before they broke up in January 2018.
2018–2019: Queen and marriage
After a social media hiatus, Minaj released two singles from her fourth studio album Queen. She released "
Chun-Li" and "
Barbie Tingz" simultaneously in April 2018, with both reaching number ten and number twenty-five in the U.S. respectively. She performed "Chun-Li" on Saturday Night Live and the
2018 BET Awards. While "Chun Li" appears on the tracklist of the album, "Barbie Tingz" is only included on the
Target version of the album. On the red carpet of the 2018
Met Gala, she announced the title of the album and the original release date. The second single, "
Ariana Grande was released on June 14, 2018, alongside the album pre-order, reaching number 42 on the Hot 100.
Minaj appeared as a featured artist on the song "
Fefe" along with
Murda Beatz and
Tekashi 6ix9ine. It debuted at number four in the U.S, marking Minaj's highest debut on the chart at the time, besting the sixth place start of "Bang Bang" in 2014. It later peaked at number three and was added to Queen in the middle of its first tracking week. The day before the album's release, Minaj launched her own
Beats 1 radio show, Queen Radio.
Queen received multiple delays before being released on August 10, 2018. It debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 185,000
album-equivalent units, of which 78,000 came from pure album sales. It debuted at number five in the UK and at number four in Australia, marking Minaj's highest debut in the latter country. Minaj later expressed frustration and criticized several people including
Travis Scott, whose album Astroworld claimed the top spot for a second week in a row, blocking Queen from the top spot. Minaj alleged that Travis Scott sold shirts, merchandise, and ticket passes for an unnannounced tour to boost his album sales. This controversy and Queen's roll-out was documented by several news outlets and commentators.Queen received generally positive reviews, with some critics deriding the album's length and direction. The album was certified Platinum by the
RIAA in January 2019, for moving over 1 million equivalent units.
Minaj performed at the
2018 MTV Video Music Awards where she also won her fourth MTV Video Music Award for the "Chun-Li" music video. The same month, she featured on the remix of "
Idol" by South Korean boy band
BTS. It debuted and peaked at number eleven in the U.S. which was the group's second highest charting song at the time. She featured on the song "
Woman Like Me" by British girl group
Little Mix, which was released in October 2018. A music video was shortly released after, with Minaj and Little Mix later performing the song together at the
2018 MTV Europe Music Awards. She was featured on
"Dip" by American rapper
Tyga which reached number sixty-three in the U.S. making her the first female artist to have 100 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She later attended the year-end
Billboard Women in Music event, receiving the Game Changer Award for the accomplishment.
In September, Minaj co-headlined the annual
Made in America Festival and suffered another wardrobe malfunction when the front of her outfit fell open. In November, she was invited to the DWP music festival in China but did not perform due to problems with the company hosting the event. The next year in April 2019, Minaj made a surprise guest appearance at the 2019
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival during
Ariana Grande's set where they performed their collaborations "
Side to Side" and "
Bang Bang". However, she experienced technical difficulties with her earpiece. Later that month, Minaj parted ways with her longtime management team after a mutual agreement, with American entertainment executive
Irving Azoff serving as her new manager.
In June 2019, Minaj released a standalone single titled "
Megatron" along with an accompanying music video. In the U.S, the song debuted at number twenty. A month later, she provided information on her upcoming fifth studio album, appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, stating that "there's definitely a new album, of course." She featured on the song "
Hot Girl Summer" alongside fellow female rapper
Megan Thee Stallion in August 2019, which reached number eleven in the U.S. Minaj began dating her childhood friend Kenneth Petty (nicknamed "Zoo") in December 2018, and after less than a year of dating, filed for a marriage license in August 2019. She announced that they had officially married in October, hyphenating his last name to hers upon marriage.
Minaj had a voice role as Pinky in The Angry Birds Movie 2, which was released in August 2019. In November, Minaj appeared on the Charlie's Angels: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on the song "Bad To You", along with
Ariana Grande and
Normani, marking her sixth collaboration with Grande. Minaj collaborated with Colombian singer
Karol G on the song "
Tusa", which was released to streaming platforms in November. The song reached forty-two in the U.S. and reached the top of many other charts including the "
Hot Latin Songs" chart, which made it the first song with two lead female artists to debut in such position. "Tusa" later became the longest-running number one single in Argentina, spending five months on the top of the chart.
2020–2021: Motherhood, Beam Me Up Scotty re-release, and lawsuit
In May, fellow rapper
Doja Cat announced a collaboration with Minaj on two remixes of her song "
Say So". The remix later debuted at number one on the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100, becoming both Minaj and Doja Cat's first single to reach number one in the U.S. It became the all-female collaboration that had reached number one in the U.S. since "
Fancy" by Australian rapper
Iggy Azalea featuring English singer
Charli XCX did it in 2014. It marked the first time that a song by two female rappers reached the top, for which
Guinness World Records later gave them an award. A month later, she released a collaboration with
6ix9ine called "
Trollz", which debuted at number one in the U.S. becoming Minaj's second number one single. This made Minaj the first female rapper to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 since
Lauryn Hill did so in 1998 with "
Doo Wop (That Thing)". The song dropped to number 34 in its second week, at the time breaking the record for biggest fall from number one in the U.S.
The next year in February 2021, Minaj's father, Robert Maraj, died while walking along a road on
Long Island in a
hit-and-run accident. Charles Polevich, a 70-year-old man, was charged as the suspect of Maraj's death. Polevich was arraigned and charged with two felonies, which were leaving scene of incident involving death of a person and tampering with or suppressing physical evidence. Three months later, she commented on her father's death in a letter, saying, "[...] it has been the most devastating loss of my life. I find myself wanting to call him all the time, more so now that he's gone. [...] May his soul rest in paradise. He was very loved & will be very missed."
In May 2021, Minaj released a reissue of her mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty (2009), including new songs previously unavailable on streaming services. The reissue debuted at number two on the U.S.
Billboard 200, which gave it the highest debut for a female rap mixtape in the U.S. A song from the reissue, titled "
Seeing Green" featuring fellow
Young Money rappers
Lil Wayne reached number twelve in the U.S. and appeared in the mid-year "Best Hip Hop Songs of 2021 (so far)" critics list by magazine HipHopDX. Minaj's verse on "Fractions" from the reissue appeared on the mid-year "Best Rap Verses of 2021 So Far" critics list from
Complex. In July, Minaj collaborated with fellow rapper
Bia on the remix of her song Whole Lotta Money. The remix appeared on several "Best Songs of the Year" lists from publications such as Rolling Stone and NPR.
In August, her husband's victim (named Jennifer Hough) filed a lawsuit against Minaj and Petty for alleged harassment and intimidation. She later gave an interview about the accusations on the daytime talk show The Real. While Minaj has not publicly commented on the lawsuit, she addressed the accusations in a case filing: "I never asked [Hough] to change her story, I never offered her any money in return for a statement, and I did not threaten her with any type of harm if she chose not to provide a statement." Hough later voluntarily dropped the case against Minaj, with her lawyers claiming "jurisdictional issues" and telling a judge that it was going to be refiled in California. Minaj's lawyer countered their claims, saying that the refiling was a "frivolous gambit to avoid sanctions" and that "their claims received an aggressive response." Hough's initial claim of refiling the case was in January 2022.
In September, Minaj collaborated with English singer-songwriter
Elton John's fifth collaboration album The Lockdown Sessions (2021). She appeared on the song "Always Love You" with John and rapper
Young Thug. Later that month, she split with her previous manager
Irving Azoff and is now being managed by
Wassim Slaiby, also known by his management company SALXCO, who is best known for managing
The Weeknd and
Doja Cat. English singer
Jesy Nelson released her solo debut, called "
Boyz", which Minaj features on. The song peaked at number four in the UK and number sixteen in Ireland.
At the beginning of the year, after a social media hiatus, Minaj announced a song collaboration with rapper
Lil Baby called "
Do We Have a Problem?". The track was released in February, along with a music video that featured guest appearances from actors
Joseph Sikora and
Cory Hardrict. The video contained a snippet of another Lil Baby collaboration titled "
Bussin", which was released a week later, on February 11. "Do We Have a Problem?" debuted and peaked at number two on the U.S.
Billboard Hot 100. It became Minaj's twentieth top ten entry in the U.S, extending her record as the female rapper with the most U.S. top ten singles. In a promotional
Apple Music interview with DJ
Zane Lowe, Minaj said her forthcoming fifth studio album is "coming very soon". She described it as "fun, gutta, and back to the basics". Her other ventures also include fronting the campaign for the "Heaven" Spring 2022 collection by
Marc Jacobs, which launched in March.
In March, Minaj collaborated with fellow rapper
Coi Leray on a song titled "
Blick Blick", from the former's debut studio album, Trendsetter (2022). Prior to the song's release, she revealed that her verse was almost scrapped due to American rapper
Benzino (who is also Coi Leray's father) leaking the collaboration. Later that month, she surprise-released the standalone single "
We Go Up" featuring rapper
Fivio Foreign. The
drill track was initially teased on Minaj's social media as a scrapped song from her album, before fans had requested her to release the song. In April, Minaj appeared on English television host
James Corden's Carpool Karaoke segment, kickstarting its returning broadcast on The Late Late Show with James Corden after a two-year hiatus. After that, she was named the new creative director of American men's magazine
Maxim and became the new global ambassador and advisor for MaximBet, a sports betting brand launched by Maxim. She came on board as a stakeholder.
In February 2023, Nicki first previewed "
Red Ruby da Sleeze" through her Instagram, announcing that it would be released in March 2023. She also teased the song as she shared a video of her rapping it at the
Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. The song debuted and peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 while hitting number one on the U.S. Digital Song Sales chart, tying with Drake as the artists with the most number ones on the chart. In April 2023, Nicki appeared as a feature on "
WTF," the third single leading up to
YoungBoy Never Broke Again's sixth-full-length studio album, Don't Try This At Home.
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 is known for her animated rapping style and "unique"
flow. Her rapping is distinctive for its speed and the use of
alter egos and accents, primarily
British cockney. She often both sings and raps in her songs, and has made use of
punch lines, and
word play. The 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 vocal delivery. She kind of reminds me of a female
Busta Rhymes, like how she throws her voice in different directions."
Jon Caramanica of 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
bubblegumrap, 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." Robby Seabrook III of
XXL included Minaj in list of "most unique flows from rappers over the last five years", saying that she "has solidified her spot as a leader of the pack for her animated flows, inspiring many other women in hip-hop to play with their vocals. She goes from campy to bellicose, excited to eccentric, oftentimes all on one song."
Her verse on
Kanye West's "
Monster" was critically acclaimed and contributed greatly to her popularity; many critics said she had the best verse in the song. West claimed at one point he considered deleting her verse from the track, because he was worried it would outshine his own work:
It was like that moment when I thought about taking Nicki's verse off of 'Monster' because I knew people would say that was the best verse on the best Hip Hop album of all time or arguably top ten albums of all time. And I would do all that work, eight months of work on Dark Fantasy and people to this day would say to me 'My favorite thing was Nicki Minaj's verse'. So if I let my ego get the best of me instead of letting that girl get the shot to get that platform to be all she could be, I would take it off or marginalize her, try to stop her from having that shining moment…
Tara Colley of The Conversation described Minaj as a "pre-eminent female rapper" and that she has "consistently straddled the distinct personas of gangsta boss and sexy pop siren without truly committing to either" and that "her chameleonic ability" matches "some of rap's most verbose, witty, filthy and pop-friendly" stars such as
Lil Wayne. Zoe Johnson of XXL, stated that in recent years Minaj's "beat selection has moved to refined production full of grit and hip-hop flare in recent years".
"Roman Zolanski" redirects here. Not to be confused with
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 R), to commemorate her December 2010 appearance on Lopez Tonight.
One of Minaj's most well-known alter-egos is "a demon inside her" named Roman Zolanski (named after film director
Roman Polanski with modified surname), 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
Foxy Brown, and
Jay-Z as major influences: "I can't even imagine my career, um, my creative spirit without Wayne. [...] I feel like I'm still intertwined with him creatively." Minaj has called Lil Wayne her mentor and credited him with discovering her. On Foxy Brown and Jay-Z, Minaj said: "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, further: "I never really told Foxy how much she has influenced me and how much she changed my life" adding that Foxy Brown was "the most influential female rapper" for her. Minaj said in a
T Magazine interview in 2017: "Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Foxy Brown... [...] Those are the three I keep in my head when I'm writing because they've influenced me so much, [...] I feel like I'm a part of all of them."
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."
Early in her career, Minaj often wore colorful costumes, cosmetics, and wigs
Billboard listed Minaj the fourth-most-active musician on social media on its March 2011
Social 50 chart. Minaj is also the most followed rapper on
Instagram with over 200 million followers, the first to surpass that number, as well as one of the most followed female musicians on the social media platform. On
Twitter, she is one of the most followed rappers, with over 26 million followers on the app, as of September 2022. She joined American Idol as a judge in 2013.BET has named Minaj as a "gay icon". Minaj was a vocal proponent of
streams counting towards an artist's
RIAA certifications. The organization later announced in 2016 that it would be modernizing the certification process for albums, including on-demand audio and video streams, as reported by Yahoo! News.
Minaj has been called as a "fashion icon" by Allure, Time, XXL and has been called a "camp style icon" by
Refinery29. She has cited
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"; Minaj has been included on the annual MaximHot 100 list several times. In 2014, Minaj underwent a reinvention in her image sporting a "natural" and "softer" look, wearing fewer wigs and less colourful costumes. She stated that she "went so far to the other side that there's only one place to go from there. You can either continue doing costumes or you can just say, "Hey guess what? This will shock them even more. Doing nothing will shock them even more"".
Her physique, notably her
buttocks, has attracted significant attention from the media. Early in her career, she made autographing
breasts part of her movement to empower women. In 2010, 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."
Minaj talked about feminism in an interview with Vogue in 2015, saying "There are things that I do that feminists don't like, and there are things that I do that they do like. I don't label myself. I just say the truth about what I feel. I feel like women can do anything that they put their minds to." In 2018, an interview with Elle, in which she discussed
sex workers, her own sex appeal, and sexuality in music and on social media, attracted criticism. In The New York Times Magazine, music critic Vanessa Grigoriadis said that Minaj "has become expert at modelling the ways that women can wield power in the industry. But she has also drawn attention to the ways in which power can be embodied by a woman standing up for herself and speaking her own mind."
The cover art and music video for her 2014 single, "
Anaconda", attracted significant media attention upon release. The music video was viewed 19.6 million times in its first 24 hours of release.The Guardian called the video "racy" but noted that she "doesn't shy from ruffling her audience's feathers", while others praised Minaj for "owning her sexuality", examining her work through a
feminist perspective. Another writer for The Guardian said, of the "Anaconda" video, Minaj turns "the classic song into a conversation, and [refuses] to let the camera objectify her lap dance by keeping it zoomed out, at a distance."
In May 2017, Minaj offered via Twitter to pay college tuition fees and student loans for 30 of her fans. She appeared to grant their requests, ranging from $500 to school supplies to $6,000 for tuition, promising to respond to more requests in a month or two. She also announced that she would launch an official charity for student loans and tuition payments in the near future. In the same month, Minaj revealed on
Instagram that she has been donating money to a village in India for a few years via her pastor, Lydia Sloley. These donations helped the village get a computer center, a tailoring institute, a reading program, and two water wells. "This is the kind of thing that makes me feel the most proud", she said about the new additions to the village.
In 2019, Minaj pulled out of headlining a concert in
Saudi Arabia following online backlash from activists, after women's rights activist
Loujain al-Hathloul was detained and arrested for speaking out against the Saudi regime. Minaj was praised by
Thor Halvorssen of
The Human Rights Foundation, who criticized her initial plan to perform in a letter, and released a statement saying, "After careful reflection ... I believe it is important for me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and freedom of expression."
In 2020, Minaj donated $25,000 to the St. Jude's Home for Girls school after visiting the school in her native country of Trinidad. In a speech, Minaj encouraged the girls to push through hard obstacles, even referencing her own experience with domestic violence: "I've experienced being in a home with domestic violence. I've experienced, you know, being at a very difficult crossroads in my life as a teenager. And sometimes as a teenager when things happen, you feel like there's no up from there." In the same year, following the release of Minaj and
6ix9ine's collaboration, "
Trollz", Minaj announced that a portion of the proceeds from the song, along with profits from all merchandise, will go towards the Bail Project amid the
Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the
murder of George Floyd.
In 2012, Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called Minaj "the most influential female rapper of all time", and in 2015 Vanessa Grigoriadis from
its magazine called her "the world's biggest female rap superstar". In Evening Standard, Jochan Embley called her one of the most influential rap artists of all time, saying that "Everything she does is bold, fearless and distinct – whether that be her eye-popping stage attire or her expertly delivered lyrics, which stare gender and race dead in the eye." Zoe Johnson from XXL called her "one of the most versatile MCs" and that she has "made millions off upbeat pop hits and traditional hip-hop sounds that cater to both her femininity and her assertive side".
For NPR Music, Sowmya Krishnamurthy noted that Minaj has portrayed "the quirky, life-size Barbie, glamorous
vixen and girl-next-door", arguing that she "changed the landscape for artists in hip-hop for the past decade" with said alter egos. In 2017, Patrik Sandberg of Dazed argued that Minaj has "surpassed every other female hip hop artist to become the most successful in history" in 2017. In 2020, Nick Soulsby of
PopMatters called her the "best female rapper and the best rapper of the past ten years – no gender preposition required."Glamour included Minaj in their list of 104 women who defined 2010s pop culture.
Minaj "became a nimble, evocative rapper. She became an intricate lyricist. She became a thoughtful singer. She became a risky performer. She invented new personae. More than any other rapper in the mainstream, she pushed hard against expectations ... with no one around to compare herself to, or for others to compare her to, she became her own watermark."
In 2014, NPR's Erik Nielson said that Minaj's "success over the last decade has stood as an exception to the unwritten rule that women rappers no longer have a place among elite artists".Nylon writer, Demicia Inman, also credited Minaj for her influence which "stands as one of the most successful rappers of the millennium", also going on to say that Minaj "battled misogyny and industry bias against black women to carve her own identity and sound" thus impacting her career. Complex also commented that, "From her bold outfits to her multi-colored wigs, Minaj oozed confidence that inspired others who were watching closely... [she] doesn't need anything but her art to speak for itself".
In 2010, 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 since its inception in 2007. In 2011, Minaj was ranked sixth on the Rolling Stone master ranking of the "Kings of Hip Hop" which is based on record sales and social media metrics. She is the only rapper to win the
BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist seven consecutive times. In 2013, Minaj became the most-charted female rapper on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time, with 44 entries, tying
Mariah Carey as seventh among women of all genres.
Minaj has twenty-one top 10 singles on the chart, the most for any female rapper, with six of those being solo songs. In 2017, Minaj broke the record for most Hot 100 entries by any female artist, surpassing
Aretha Franklin, and in 2018, she became the first female artist to accumulate 100 entries on the Hot 100. She held the mentioned record for most Hot 100 entries by a female artist until it was broken in December 2020 by singer-songwriter
Taylor Swift. She is the female artist with the second-most Hot 100 entries, behind Swift. In 2019,
Billboard Women in Music awarded her with the Game Changer Award.
In 2019, her collaboration with
Karol G, named "
Tusa", received two nominations at the
Latin Grammys. The song became the longest-running number-one single on the
Argentina Hot 100, having spent 25 weeks on the position. In 2020, Minaj become the second female rapper to chart at number one on the Hot 100 more than once with her
6ix9ine collaboration "
Trollz". She also became the second female to debut atop the chart since Lauryn Hill in 1998. In the same year, she also was the most streamed female rapper on
Spotify. In 2021, the music video for "Anaconda" became the first female rap solo song to reach one billion views on YouTube.
In total, Minaj has eight music videos with more than one billion views across all credits on YouTube, becoming the first female rapper to do so. She is only one of two female artists to have eight music videos reaching more than one billion views, tying with
Rihanna . In 2016, she was listed on the
Time 100 annual list of the most influential people in the world. She was also featured on one of the physical covers of the issue.Complex ranked her eighth on their list of best rappers of the 2010s, being the only female rapper on the list, and named her "Best Rapper Alive" of 2014.
Minaj promoting her first fragrance "Pink Friday" in 2012
Minaj has a line of fragrances first launched in September 2012. She partnered with 'Give Back Brands' to introduce her first
fragrance, "Pink Friday", which was nominated for three 2013
FiFi Awards for Fragrance of the Year, Best Packaging, and Media Campaign of the Year. A "Pink Friday: Special Edition" was released in April 2013 and a deluxe edition version of the fragrance, titled "Pink Friday: Deluxe Edition", was launched in December 2013.
Her fourth and fifth fragrance line, "Minajesty", was launched in September 2013 followed by a flanker fragrance, "Minajesty: Exotic Edition", which was released exclusively to the
Home Shopping Network in June 2014. This was followed by the launch of her sixth fragrance line, "Onika", in September 2014. A year later in 2015, Minaj released "The Pinkprint", her seventh fragrance in support of her
third studio album of the same name. In 2016, Minaj launched her eighth fragrance "Trini Girl." In 2018, in support of her
fourth studio album, she released her ninth fragrance, "Queen."
Products and endorsements
Minaj has been affiliated with several manufacturing companies and has endorsed a number of products during her career. She has also stated that she has learned the ins and outs of business so she could do it herself. In November 2010, she teamed up with
MAC Cosmetics and launched a lipstick, "Pink 4 Friday", which was sold for four consecutive Fridays to promote her debut studio album Pink Friday. In 2011,
Mattel crafted a
Barbie doll with the avatar of Minaj, inspired by the rapper's likeness for charity, which she described as a "major moment" in her career. It was auctioned on the
Charitybuzz website; proceeds benefited nonprofit
Project Angel Food. A spokesperson for Mattel stated that, "Barbie is obviously a pop culture icon [...] and Nicki is a big part of pop culture and also huge within the fashion industry, as well as a big Barbie fan." Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone stated that the "Minaj Barbie doll is notable in that the rapper has made Barbie dolls a crucial part of her aesthetic." 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.
In February 2012, Minaj launched her own range of lip products for
MAC Cosmetics' Viva Glam. 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 – and was the face of the lip product line that year along with him. With designer
Jeremy Scott, Minaj signed an endorsement deal with
Adidas for the brand's 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
Sky Ferreira and
2NE1 in other locations worldwide. She fronted the Viva Glam spring campaign by herself, which also introduced her limited-edition lip product collection, "Nicki 2", which was launched in early 2013.
In February 2013, Minaj starred in
Bluewater Comics' Fame biographical-comic series, with her comic book, titled 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. She introduced her lifestyle product line, "The Nicki Minaj Collection" for
Kmart, composed of clothing, accessories and houseware. In June 2013, Minaj and
Mona Scott-Young launched MYX Fusions, a line of fruit-infused, single serve
moscato wine beverage, available in flavors:
chardonnay, peach, coconut, mango, and watermelon. Minaj serves as a co-owner, creative director, and ambassador of the brand.
Throughout 2014, Minaj released spring, summer, and fall clothing collections for Kmart. Minaj served as the face of
Roberto Cavalli's spring and summer campaign of that year. In March 2015, it was announced that Minaj was 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
Kanye West own a 3% equity stake in the service. In November 2015, Minaj released a holiday capsule clothing collection for Kmart and its affiliated
e-commerce platform, ShopYourWay. She also released a limited-edition couture collection for the retailer, which was also available at her website.
In 2019, Minaj announced a collaboration with luxury fashion house
Fendi, whose chief executive officer Serge Brunschwig stated the brand "shares great affinity with her. [Minaj represents] the fun aspect of the brand", and that the collaboration "made sense [...] [Minaj would] present it extremely well." Minaj's capsule collection with the brand, titled "Fendi Prints On"—inspired by the lyric containing the same words on her 2018 single, "
Chun-Li"—was officially announced in September that year, and released on October 14, 2019.
In March 2022, Minaj fronted the campaign for the "Heaven" Spring 2022 collection by
Marc Jacobs. In July 2022, she collaborated with Rap Snacks and released her own potato chip flavor, "Barbie-Que Honey Truffle". The following month, Mattel sued Rap Snacks, claiming the company violated the Barbie trademark and had made a "deliberate and calculated" choice to do so. The lawsuit was settled in September after the company changed the snack's name to "Bar-B-Quin". Minaj released a "variety pack" with Rap Snacks in October, and a "Nocho Nachos"
nachos flavor in March 2023, inspired by a lyric on her 2023 single, "Red Ruby Da Sleeze". Also in October 2022, the rapper appeared alongside
Pete Davidson, and
Bukayo Saka in a trailer for the video game,
Call of Duty:Modern Warfare II.
Heavy On It Records
On March 3, 2023, Minaj announced the launch of her own record label imprint on a episode of her radio show, "Queen Radio". Minaj did not reveal the name of the label but did say her long-time friend Patty "Patty Duke" Lauren has signed on as the label's A&R. Minaj also unveiled her starting roster: Nana Fofie, Tate Kobang, Rico Danna, and London Hill.
On March 13, 2023, Minaj revealed the name of her imprint will be called "Heavy On it Records" on "Queen Radio". The label currently has a venture with
COVID-19 vaccine controversy
In September 2021, Minaj announced she would not be attending the 2021
Met Gala due to the
COVID-19 vaccine requirement. She stated that she has avoided public appearances and traveling after contracting the virus herself and having to quarantine from her son as a result. She shared several
tweets about her unvaccinated status and claimed she wanted to do more research and be comfortable with her decision first. She alleged in a Tweet that her cousin's friend in
Trinidad suffered swollen testicles and became impotent as a result of the vaccine. These tweets received backlash where her story about her cousin's friend became the subject of jokes and memes. Trinidad and Tobago health minister Terrence Deyalsingh declared that her claims were false and that no such report existed.
Shortly after, Minaj recommended other people get the vaccine and set up a
Twitter poll on COVID-19 vaccine brands. She tweeted that she was sure she would get vaccinated herself because of
White House offered her a phone call with a doctor to answer questions about the safety of the vaccine. In an
Instagram Live response two days later, she claimed that she was simply asking questions and she did not give any facts about the vaccine. Minaj alleged that reporters harassed her family for a story, with her sharing some text messages she alleged were harassment on social media. In May 2022, Olivia Truffaut-Wong of
The Cut alleged that Minaj had gotten vaccinated, as the 2022 Met Gala (which Minaj attended) requires
proof of vaccination and a negative
COVID-19 PCR test to attend.
^Minaj claims she came to the United States as an illegal immigrant, although by the time she moved to the United States her mother and subsequently her father had lawful permanent residency. (See
early life and childhood.)
^Minaj states in the "My Time Again" documentary, released in 2014, that she was in an 11-year relationship.
abcCaramanica, Jon (March 30, 2012). "A Singular Influence". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2020. "This hard and complex work has paid off: when she releases her second album, 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,' this week, it will be as the most influential female rapper of all time."
Caramanica, Jon (March 30, 2012).
"A Singular Influence". The New York Times.
ISSN0362-4331. Retrieved March 30, 2022. This hard and complex work has paid off: when she releases her second album, 'Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded', this week, it will be as the most influential female rapper of all time.
Ramirez, Erika (March 31, 2014).
"Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2022. Many female rhymers, from Queen Latifah to Nicki Minaj, have destroyed the proverbial glass ceiling to become legends in their own right. In celebration of women's history month, we're spotlighting 31 of the greatest female rappers of all time.
Inman, Demicia (November 24, 2020).
"10 years after 'Pink Friday', a look at Nicki Minaj's enduring Legacy". Nylon. Retrieved February 15, 2021. In 2020, her influence stands as one of the most successful rappers of the millennium, regardless of gender identity – which only confirms her power. She battled misogyny and industry bias against Black women to carve her own identity and sound.
^Lamarre, Carl; Mitchell, Gail; Murphy, Keith; Saponara, Michael; Thomas, Datwon; Elibert, Mark; Diep, Eric; III, William E. Ketchum; Mamo, Heran (February 8, 2023).
"50 Greatest Rappers of All Time". Billboard. Retrieved March 3, 2023.