Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1984), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, is a Trinidadian rapper and singer-songwriter. In August 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Entertainment with distribution from Universal Motown. Nicki was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago to parents of Indian and Afro Trinidadian descent. She lived in Saint James with her grandmother, because her parents were looking for a place to live in the Queens borough of New York City. Her mother would occasionally visit, and one day, when Minaj was five, her mother picked her up to move to Queens. According to Minaj, her father drank alcohol, took drugs, and once tried to kill her mother by setting the house on fire.
Minaj’s debut album, Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010. A buzz single, “Massive Attack,” was released in April. In August, Minaj released “Your Love” as the first official single from her debut album. The single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and reached #1 on the Rap Songs chart. Minaj became the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. In October 2010, Minaj became the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously.
Nicki has been sharply critical of the treatment and portrayal of women in the hip-hop industry and has been quoted in Interview magazine as saying, “I made a conscious decision to try to tone down the sexiness, I want 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.”
Along with artists such as Rihanna and Beyoncé, Nicki is realigning society’s perception of women in hip-hop and R&B as one based on power instead of subjugation. You can listen to the Guardian‘s podcast review of Nicki’s album “Pink Friday” here (starting at the 18:16 mark).