Everything you want to know about Nicki Minaj

The life, the music, the investments, and the controversies surrounding Nicki Minaj.

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(Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj‘s real name is Onika Tanya Maraj. She is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. The brilliant rapper’s distinctive voice and fast-flowing rap style have made her a successful artist as well as a featured voice on other musicians’ albums. Minaj is also recognized for her colorful, outlandish fashion choices, which include brightly colored makeup, dramatic hairstyles, and eccentric costumes.

Where is Nicki Minaj from?

Nicki Minaj was born on December 8, 1982, in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. Her parents moved to the United States in search of better opportunities, and during this time, Nicki Minaj stayed with her grandmother. When she was 5, her mother, Carol Maraj, moved her to Queens, New York, where she had bought a house. 

Minaj’s father, Robert Maraj, had a long history of violence and chronic drug addiction. In an interview with The Guardian, Minaj revealed that in an attempt to kill her mother, he set fire to their home in December 1987. Those early challenges, according to Minaj, fueled her desire to rise beyond the kind of life that she and her parents had experienced.

Nicki Minaj thegrio.com
Nicki and her mother, Carol Maraj (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)

Minaj has a natural talent for putting on a show. She wrote her first rap when she was 12 years old. She then went on to study at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, the school that was the inspiration behind the film and TV show Fame. She had hoped to pursue an acting career after graduating but this did not exactly work out, and she settled into a series of stable jobs, one of which was waitressing at Red Lobster, where she was fired for being disrespectful to clients.

Talking to Billboard in 2010, Minaj said, “I worked at Red Lobster.. and I chased a customer out of the restaurant once so I could stick my middle finger up at her and demand that she give me my pen back. I swear to God I was bad.”

Music Career

Early Career

Nicki Minaj began taking backup singing gigs for local New York City rappers, notably Full Force, in order to break into the music industry. She started composing her own pieces soon after. Fendi, the CEO of Dirty Money, later spotted Minaj on her MySpace profile, liked her music and material, and signed her to his label. 

“My journey to who I am today began on MySpace. I love getting real opinions from people,” Minaj told Teen Vogue in 2003. Later on, she fell out with her manager, Big Fendi, who accused her of using him to get to the top and ditching him after. 

Nicki’s rapping skills impressed Lil Wayne. The two then worked together on some mixtapes, the first of which was Playtime Is Over”, released in July 2007. Minaj’s female sass and outstanding style were emphasized on this and successive mixtapes, “Sucka Free” (2008) and “Beam Me Up Scotty” (2009). 

In August 2009, she became the very first female musician to sign to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. With features on the We Are Young Money compilation album (2009), as well as collaborations with Robin Thicke and Mariah Carey, she solidified her growth.

How many albums does Nicki Minaj have?

In March 2010, Nicki Minaj released “Massive Attack,” her debut single. She then released more singles, “Check it Out” and “Your Love,” before releasing her debut album, “Pink Friday.” The album debuted number 2 on Billboard 200. 

In 2012, Minaj also got to perform with Madonna at the  Super Bowl. Shortly after, she released “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” an album that was focused on her alter ego “Roman.” Minaj was then announced as a judge for the 12th season of American Idol, after which she left the show. Minaj and Mariah Carey, who was also a judge on the show, didn’t seem to like each other and would feud openly during the early auditions.

Nicki Minaj (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj released her next album in 2014. The album was “The Pinkprint,” and it has one of Nicki’s most popular songs to date, “Anaconda.” Some stars features on this album include Drake, Chris Brown, Ariana Grande, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, and more. To promote her album, Minaj went on “The Pinkprint Tour” from March to August 2015, and was supported by Dej Loaf, Tinashe, Meek Mill, Trey Songz, Rae Sremmurd, and Ester Dean

Minaj made history in March 2015 when she became the first female lead performer to have three songs in the top ten of Billboard’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop chart at the same time. At the 2015 BET Awards, Minaj was awarded Best Female Hip-Hop Artist for the sixth year in a row. This made her the female rapper with the most awards in this category, with Missy Elliott right behind her with 5 wins. Minaj stayed at the top of the hip-hop music industry by winning Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2015 VMAs for her track “Anaconda.”

Minaj made a remix of “Down in the DM” by Yo Gotti in 2016 and then featured on Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” later on in the same year. Ariana and Nicki performed the track in the 2016 AMAs and VMAs. She teamed up with Mike-Will-Made-It to make “Black Barbies,” a remix of Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles”. In December 2016, she featured on “Like a Star,” a track by Fetty Wap

Nicki Minaj was featured on “Swalla” in February 2017, a dancehall-tinged track by Jason Derulo. She released her own track, “Only,” which featured Lil Wayne and Drake. This track was a response to Remy Ma’s diss tracks directed at her, “Another One” and “ShETHER”. She also released two more tracks, “Changed It” and “Regret in Your Tears.”

For the rest of 2017, Minaj appeared on many singles as a guest rapper, including Migos “MotorSport” and Yo Gotti‘s “Rake It Up,” as well as Katy Perry‘s “Swish Swish.” Minaj performed at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards and formally unveiled her fourth album on the red carpet at the 2018 Met Gala, “Queen.” June 15, 2018 was the set album release date, but it was pushed to a later date and eventually released in August. 

“Chun-LI” and “Barbie Tingz” were released first on April 12, 2018, followed by and “Bed,” featuring Ariana Grande. Nicki Minaj made a musical guest appearance on the 43rd season of Saturday Night Live and performed “Poke It Out” and “Chun-Li”. She also performed at the 2018 BET Awards.

Rap stars (from left) Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne look on as Drake accepts the Top Artist trophy at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In July 2018, Tekashi 6ix9ine‘s released his single, “Fefe,” featuring Minaj, and she also featured alongside Kanye West in Tekashi’s other song, “Mama”. The day before releasing her album, “Queen,” Minaj started “Queen Radio,” her own show on Beats 1 Radio to promote the album. After the album release, Minaj released “Ganja Burn,” the album’s opening track. 

Nicki co-headlined the Made in America Festival on September 2, 2018. The next week, she was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where she performed her songs. Little Mix, a British girl trio, released their single, “Woman Like Me,” on October 12, 2018, featuring Minaj. She was also featured on “Dip,” Tyga‘s song.

At the end of 2019, Minaj announced that she was retiring from music to focus on her family. While her fans thought that she would not make any music in the future, she proved that this was not the case by featuring on “Seeing Green” alongside Lil Wayne and Drake in 2021. 

Nicki Minaj’s Endorsements

Other than doing music, Minaj has also branched out into other areas to grow her net worth. In 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift, she voiced mammoth Steffie, and in 2014’s The Other Woman, she starred with Cameron Diaz

She was later nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2016 for her performance in Barbershop: The Next Cut. She has worked on advertising campaigns and endorsement deals for MAC Cosmetics, Pepsi, and Adidas Originals, among other brands. Minaj also has her own fragrance line and holds a share of Tidal, the streaming service.

Who is Nicki Minaj married to?

Minaj stated that she was bisexual earlier on in her career. She later clarified her sexuality in an interview with ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine, stating she had purposefully labeled herself bisexual to gain attention. Here are Nicki’s relationships over the years:

Safaree Samuels

Safaree Samuels and Nicki Minaj dated from 2003 to 2014. Initially, Nicki kept the relationship private, but they were more open to the public later on. Things went south between the two in 2014 and they parted ways. In a Twitter spat, they both accused each other of lying, cheating, and stealing. Safaree, who is also a rapper, accused Nicki of using him to build her career and then getting rid of him after she made it. There are rumors that they may have been engaged at some point while they were still together. 

Safaree thegrio.com
TV personality Safaree Samuel attends the BET Hip Hop Awards 2018 at Fillmore Miami Beach on October 6, 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Meek Mill

Nicki Minaj was very open about her relationship with Meek Mill. Meek acknowledged their relationship, and the two began sharing photos of themselves on Instagram. Minaj even shared a photo of a big heart-shaped gem on her ring finger the rapper had given her, fueling speculation that they might have been engaged. Minaj, however, stated that she was single almost two years after they started dating. 


Nicki reportedly began dating Nas, a fellow New York rapper, a few months after she declared that she was single. They never explicitly stated whether this was true, but they made strong hints about it.

When Ellen asked Minaj about her relationship with Nas on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she blushed immensely and merely stated that they were having “sleepovers.” They also shared similar photos on their social media profiles, and Nicki was photographed at Nas’ 44th birthday party. The two reportedly parted ways in January 2018. 

Kenneth Petty

Nicki Minaj Kenneth Petty thegrio.com
Nicki Minaj and her husband Kenneth Petty. (Credit: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj and Kenneth ‘Zoo’ Petty are currently married and they welcomed their first child in 2020. They started dating in December 2018 and got married in 2019, but they’ve known each other for a long time as childhood sweethearts. Nicki revealed on Twitter that she dated Kenneth while they were both teenagers.

Some of Nicki’s followers were taken aback by her relationship with Kenneth, who is a convicted sex offender who was convicted of attempted rape in 1995, and was sentenced to seven years in jail for manslaughter in 2002.

Nicki Minaj Controversies

Nicki has had her own fair share of controversies and feuds over the years. Here are some of the biggest ones that took the internet by storm:                                                        

Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma

Remy and Minaj started feuding in 2007 after Nicki released the song “Dirty Money,” which was part of her album, Playtime Is Over (2007). Remy Ma claimed that some lyrics from the song, “Tell that bitch with the crown to run it like Chris Brown/she won three rounds, I’ma need a hundred thou/like ‘Chinatown’—bitches better bow down/oh you ain’t know, betcha bitches know now/fuck I got a gun—let her know that I’m the one,” were about her. 

After the song was released, Minaj and Remy Ma’s rivalry started, and they have since been releasing diss tracks and verses targeted at each other. Some of these include Minaj’s “Make Love” with Gucci Mane and Remy Ma‘s collaboration with Fat Joe, “Money Showers”. On February 25, 2017, Remy Ma released “Shether.”

Later on in an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, she accused Minaj of attempting to prevent her from receiving awards. This was on March 3, 2017.  Minaj replied to this with her song, “No Frauds,” where she accused Remy Ma of making up lies and ridiculed Plata O Plomo’s poor record sales.

Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim

Minaj has been feuding with rapper Lil’ Kim since her rise to fame with Pink Friday. Kim said Minaj had stolen her image. Minaj’s song “Roman’s Revenge,” featuring Eminem, was generally thought to be a response to Kim’s accusations shortly after. Lil’ Kim brought back the feud with the release of her mixtape “Black Friday.”     

In the mixtape’s artwork, Lil’ Kim is pictured decapitating Nicki Minaj with a sword, and the title is an obvious reference to Nicki Minaj. Minaj retaliated in 2011 with a segment of a diss track named “Tragedy.” Following the release of “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” the controversial song “Stupid Hoe” was rumored to contain comments directed at Lil’ Kim.  

Lil’ Kim later said in an interview that Minaj’s song “Automatic” was similar to some of her unreleased content. Minaj was described as “obnoxious” and “catty” by her. Minaj appears to have made comments regarding their feud, adding “Someone had a go at me. When a veteran attacked me, I retaliated with Roman’s Revenge and continued on my way.” Kim expressed that she’d want to do a Verzuz with Minaj during the BET Awards in 2021.

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B thegrio.com
Nicki Minaj, Designer Jeremy Scott, and Cardi B attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B’s relationship has always had some tension around it. Cardi B caused a ruckus at the after-party for New York Fashion Week 2018 when she threw one of her shoes at Nicki Minaj. She also attempted to assault her physically. Cardi B later alleged that Minaj had “liked” comments on social media questioning her ability to take care of Kulture, her daughter.

Minaj talked about the incident later on, in an episode of Queen Radio, her Beats 1 radio show. She denied what Cardi B accused her of doing, and called the incident “humiliating.” She also added that she could never speak badly of anybody’s child.

Nicki Minaj COVID Vaccine Controversy            

Nicki has had her own fair share of controversies and feuds over the years. However, there are some big ones that took the internet by storm. Among these include Nicki’s feud with Remy Ma, her rivalry with Lil’ Kim, and her feud with Cardi B.                                    

Nicki Minaj also became a trending topic on the Internet following her controversial statements about the COVID-19 vaccine. Minaj stated that her cousin’s friend in Trinidad developed swollen testicles and later became impotent after getting vaccinated, prompting him to call off his wedding. These allegations were made in a Twitter thread that sent the internet into a frenzy, even capturing the attention of the White House

Nicki Minaj thegrio.com
Trinidad Minister of Health denies Nicki Minaj’s vaccine claim: ‘Waste of our time’ (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for TIDAL)

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