Wearer of fluorescently pink wigs, Onika Tanya Maraj was born on 8th December 1984, in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, but later moved to the Queens borough of New York City. Her childhood was not a happy one, as her parents often fought. So, in a way of escape, she would create alter egos for herself. “To get away from all their fighting, I would imagine being a new person. ‘Cookie’ was my first identity – that stayed with me for a while. I went on to ‘Harajuku Barbie,’ then ‘Nicki Minaj’. Fantasy was my reality.”
This explains her vocal style. Primarily a rapper, Minaj will begin singing sweetly, almost like a hyper-cute child, but then morph into a growling, throaty monster near the end of the verse. Her gruesome verse on Kanye West’s “Monster” is a great example. She manages to outperform the song’s three other contributors- amongst them Jay-Z.
Minaj released four mixtapes from 2007-09, winning her the Female Artist of the Year at the Underground Music Awards. This sparked a bidding war, with Young Money Entertainment finally claiming her signature. It was a unique, 360 deal, though. It gave Minaj near-complete creative freedom and it gave her 360 rights – including merchandising, sponsorships, touring and publishing.
Pink Friday, Minaj’s debut album, was released in November, 2010. Minaj's second album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded topped charts internationally in 2012. The album became one of the best-selling albums of 2012, selling one million copies worldwide, as well as Starships becoming one of the best-selling singles of that year.
Currently acting as a judge on American Idol, and causing controversy with Ms. Mariah Carey, Nicki is expected to release new material in 2013.