Nicki Minaj, a widely popular and successful singer, actress and model, has broken boundaries with her music and overall popular culture influence. Although she has won multiple Grammies and made a name for herself at just 34 years old, she had to overcome a difficult upbringing before accomplishing her dreams. By doing so, she has become an inspiration to many people longing to enter into the music industry, especially women.

Upbringing

Nicki Minaj, born Onika Tanya Maraj, was born on December 8, 1982 in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. Minaj’s father, Robert Maraj, was addicted to alcohol and other drugs, which impacted Minaj and her siblings. In 1987 Robert Maraj burned down their family home in an attempt to murder Minaj’s mother. When Minaj was five years old she moved to Queens, New York to meet up with her mother who was attending college.

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Minaj grew up in Queens, New York

Minaj later told “The View” that she wishes she ‘d had more discipline growing up. Since she did not have a structured lifestyle, she had to motivate herself to succeed. Minaj auditioned for admission to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, which focuses on performing and visual arts, and earned herself a spot. When she finished high school, she attempted to become an actress and got cast in the play “In Case You Forget.” As she was trying to get other roles, she worked as a waitress at various restaurants. She then worked as an administrative assistant.

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Minaj worked as a waitress as she attempted to become an actress.

Career Onset

Originally Minaj signed with Full Force, a group in Brooklyn. Shortly after she began uploading her songs on her Myspace profile and sending out samples to industry executives. The Brooklyn label Dirty Money Entertainment then signed Minaj in 2007. She then released her first mixtape, “Playtime is Over,” and in 2008 released “Sucka Free.” In 2008 the Underground Music Awards named her Female Artist of the Year. Her next mixtape, “Beam Me Up Scotty,” got coverage on both BET and MTV.

Lil Wayne then discovered Minaj, and signed her onto his label Young Money Entertainment. She then appeared on multiple hit songs, including “BedRock” and “Roger that,” which were both on the Billboard Top 100.

Success

In 2010, Minaj released the album “Pink Friday” with the hit single “Your Love.” This single was number one on the Billboard rap songs chart and was number 14 on the Billboard Top 100. That October Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven songs in the Billboard Top 100 at the same time. She also became the first female to ever appear on MTV’s Annual Hottest MC List. In 2011 the Billboard Music Awards gave her the Women in Music Rising Star Award.

Minaj continued to find success with her music with her hit single “Super Bass” going Octuple-Platinum in the United States. She was also the first female solo rapper to perform at the Grammys in 2012. In 2013 Minaj was the most charted female rapper ever on the Billboard Top 100, and she was the first rapper to win the BET Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award five times in a row. In all, she has sold more than 20 million singles as the lead vocalist and more than 60 million singles as a featured guest.

She also got to live out her dream of acting in “The Other Woman” (2014) and Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016). Minaj’s voice is in Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012).

Fashion

Nicki Minaj continuously changes her style. She became famous for her bright wigs and costumes that caught attention at many award shows. For example, in 2011 she wore a cheetah print body suit and a wig with the hair combed completely vertically. This helped her to gain popularity and build her brand in both the music and fashion industries. After she was already significantly popular, she changed her style again, opting for a more natural look. This also brought her significant attention because people were not used to seeing her without intense makeup and wigs.

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Minaj was known for her vibrant wigs.

“This will shock them even more,” she told the Huffington Post. “Doing nothing will shock them even more.”

Minaj also attributed her decision to go for a more natural look to her constant need for change.

“Life is about growth and I want to be able to change,” she told Billboard magazine. “It would be fraudulent to rap the same way and look the same way because I’m not the same.”

Minaj’s image has also helped her to break through the stereotype that rap is only for men. According to Complex Magazine, “cigars have become a staple in hip-hop culture, serving as a universal symbol of power and success.” Many famous rappers, including Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Kanye West frequently pose with cigars and feature them in their music videos. As a rapper, Minaj has also posed smoking a cigar, mirroring the behavior of notorious rappers. In Complex Magazine’s article “47 pictures of rappers smoking” she is the only female depicted. In this way she once again called into question the stereotype that cigars are only something that men can smoke. For customizable, gender inclusive cigars, click here.

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Rap

With her success and popularity, Nicki Minaj opened the door for other female rappers. While many females have tried to enter into the rap industry, Minaj attributes her success to the many trials she faced growing up. She told the “Breakfast Club” radio show that “whenever a door opens for [her] that just means you got another opportunity to do you.” She encouraged other girls to put themselves out there and try to get record deals.

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Standing Up For Women

While rap is still a male dominated industry, there are a few female rappers, led by Nicki Minaj, that have broken through the glass ceiling. Besides her many awards and record breaking albums, Minaj also holds complete creative control of her music. This allows her to express herself and rap about whatever she pleases.

“You’re not gonna tell me who I am,” she raps in one of her songs on “The Pinkprint.” “I’m gonna tell you who I am.”

Minaj believes that all girls should be able to say what’s on their mind, and encourages them to do so.

“I just want women to be able to feel like they are in control,” she told Dazed magazine. “Because we’re capable. We’re so capable.”

Although Lil Wayne led Minaj into the rap industry, Minaj told Mic Network that Jay-Z is her biggest role model. Minaj wrote “The Pinkprint,” similar in name to Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint” that Jay-Z wrote because she wanted to change the rap game for women just like Jay-Z changed rap in general with that album.

Minaj told the “Breakfast Club” that she watched “what Jay-Z did and [she] felt like if he could do it, [she] could do it.” She then said “just ‘cause I’m a girl doesn’t make me any different.”

Not only did Minaj’s breakthrough rap album, “The Pinkprint,” win multiple awards, but it also portrayed the struggles that many women endure. Minaj told Complex magazine that “The Pinkprint” is a “dope balance of vulnerability and strength,” which is what makes a women complete, the many sides that make up who she is.”

Mentorship

Minaj plans to use her success in the rap field as a female to empower other women in a more direct sense as well. She recently announced that she would mentor Blac Chyna on Chyna’s new record. Minaj also served as a judge on American Idol, giving many aspiring singers advice on how to advance their careers.

 

Nicki Minaj continues to display her talent and exert her influence today. Jason Derullo recently featured her on his hit single “Swalla,” she performed at the NBA awards in June 2017, and she is going to feature in a new music video with Quavo. While her pop/hip-hop songs were very successful, she wants to move towards only rapping. Although she has been a celebrity since 2008, her momentum does not seem like it will stop anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

 

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