Born in 1982, famed hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj grew up with an abusive, drug-addicted father. After attending La Guardia High School for the Arts, she was introduced to rapper Lil Wayne, who launched her career. Her 2010 debut album, Pink Friday, and her single, "Your Love," topped the Billboard charts. A frequent "cameo" singer, Minaj's voice was featured in seven songs on Billboard's Hot 100 in 2010. In 2012, Minaj was announced as one of the new judges of the popular singing show American Idol twelfth season. She also released the hit album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded that same year.
Hip-hop artist and singer Nicki Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1982, in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, and moved with her family to Queens, New York, when she was 5 years old. Minaj's father was a severe drug addict with a long history of violence. At one point, he set fire to the family's home in a failed attempt to kill Minaj's mother. Those early struggles, Minaj has said, helped fuel her drive to rise above the life her parents knew. "I've always had this female-empowerment thing in the back of my mind," she told Details magazine, "because I wanted my mother to be stronger, and she couldn't be. I thought, 'If I'm successful, I can change her life.'"
To reach that point, however, the young Minaj developed personas for herself that would allow her to be a "new person." An early incarnation was someone she called "Cookie," then came "Harajuku Barbie," before finally settling on Nicki Minaj. "Fantasy was my reality," she has said. Minaj clearly had a knack for performance. At the age of 12, she authored her first rap, then went on to delve into acting at La Guardia High School of Music and Art, the school that inspired the movie Fame.
Rapper and Singer
Determined to make it in the music business, Minaj took on backup singing roles for local New York City rappers. Soon, she began writing her own material. She was eventually discovered by Dirty Money CEO Fendi, who came across Minaj's MySpace page, loved what he heard, and immediately signed her to his label.
That connection led Minaj to Lil Wayne, who collaborated with her on a series of mix tapes, the first of which, Playtime is Over, was released in April 2007. The recording, and subsequent mixed tapes, showcased Minaj's female swagger and out-front style.
By early 2010, considerable anticipation had built up around Minaj's much discussed, much covered debut album, which was scheduled for release that fall. In April of that year, she released her first single, "Massive Attack." Two months later she won Best Hip-Hop Female at the annual BET Awards. She dedicated the award to Lil Wayne.
'American Idol' Judge
In March 2012, Minaj made a guest appearance on the popular television competition American Idol. She told singer Jennifer Lopez, then a judge on the show, to "scoot over a little bit" to make room for her at the judges' table. Rumors then flew of a feud between Minaj and Lopez, which Minaj later dismissed. Later that year, however, Minaj apparently got her wish when it announced as one of the newest cast members of American Idol. The singer signed on as part of the show's judging panel. It didn't take long before the fireworks began between her and fellow judge Mariah Carey. The pair seemed to take an instant dislike to each other, and openly feuded during the show's early auditions.
Television viewers got to see the two square off against each other once the show's twelfth season began airing in early 2013. Minaj and Carey got into an argument during auditions in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Minaj later storming off stage. Carey later claimed that Minaj threatened her with physical harm and decided to hire extra security as a result, according to the New York Daily News.
Minaj has also been critical of the show, tweeting that American Idol "is NOT a singing competition."
One of rap and dance music's rising stars, Minaj reached a national audience with her 2012 Super Bowl appearance. She performed alongside pop superstar Madonna in the game's popular halftime show. A short time later, Minaj released the album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The record proved to be a smash hit, reaching the top of the pop, R&B and rap charts. The infectious dance song, "Starships," was the first breakout single. "Pound the Alarm" soon followed and as did "Va Va Voom."
Later that same year, Minaj released a new version of her album entitled Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded—The Re-Up. "Freedom" was its first single and it proved enormously popular with her fans.
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