Born Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1982, professionally known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, is a Trinidadian-born American, rapper and songwriter. Born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, Minaj earned public attention after releasing three mixtapes between 2007 to 2009. She signed a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment in 2009. Minaj's debut studio album, Pink Friday (2010), peaked at number-one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spawned the top-five single "Super Bass". During that time, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), also topped the chart and its lead single, "Starships", peaked at number-five on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj's third studio album, The Pinkprint (2014), was preceded by its second single, "Anaconda", which peaked at number-two on the Hot 100 and is her highest-charting single in the United States to date. Minaj made her film debut in the 2012 animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also had a supporting role in the 2014 film The Other Woman. In 2013, she was a judge on the twelfth season of American Idol.
Her parents Robert Maraj, a financial executive and part-time gospel singer, and Carol Maraj, are Trinidadians of African heritage, with Robert additionally of Asian Indian heritage. Carol worked in payroll and accounting departments Minaj's father was addicted to alcohol and other drugs, and had a violent temper, burning down their house in December 1987. As a small child, Minaj and a sibling lived with her grandmother in Saint James. Her mother, who had moved to The Bronx, New York to attend Monroe College and brought her husband six months later,brought them to Queens, New York, when Minaj was 5. By then the family had a house on West 147th Street. Minaj recalled, "I do not think I had a lot of discipline in my household. My mom motivated me, but it was not a strict household. I kind of wanted a strict household. Minaj successfully auditioned for admission to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, which focuses on visual and performing arts. After graduation, Minaj wanted to become an actress, and she was cast in the Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001.When her acting career failed to take off, at age 19 she worked as a waitress at Red Lobster in the Bronx, but was fired for discourtesy to customers. She said she was fired from "at least fifteen jobs" for similar reasons. She also worked as an administrative assistant, in customer service and as an office manager for a Wall Street business.
Minaj released the intended lead single from her upcoming debut album, "Massive Attack" on March 29, 2010. Plans for the single were scrapped after an underwhelming commercial performance. As a result, "Your Love" was released as the album's lead single on June 1, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-one on the Billboard Rap Songs chart. In August Minaj announced that the album would be entitled Pink Friday, a play on "Black Friday". The following month she released "Check It Out" and "Right Thru Me" as follow-up singles. In October, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously and the first woman to appear on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List. Minaj released her second studio album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in April 2012. The album was preceded by the promotional singles "Roman in Moscow" and "Stupid Hoe". Critics suggested that the latter song was directed at Lil' Kim, who said: Minaj and rapper M.I.A. joined Madonna to perform their single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'", on the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show on February 6, 2012. She was the first solo female rapper to perform at the Grammy Awards, premiering "Roman Holiday" during the 2012 ceremony on February 12. Her exorcism-themed performance was controversial, with the American Catholic League criticizing Minaj for bringing a fake "Pope" to escort her on the red carpet. The "exorcism" scene that was performed during her appearance was criticized as well. According to the Catholic League president Bill Donohue "Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, 'Come All Ye Faithful' was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating. "Starships" was released in February 2012 as the lead single from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The song reached number-five on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the fifth best-selling single of 2012. Minaj was sued by Chicago artist Clive Tanaka in September 2013 for its alleged copyright infringement. Follow-up singles "Beez in the Trap" and "Right by My Side" were released shortly after. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was released on April 2, two months later than planned. The album debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 253,000 copies, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 2012. However, its mix of hip-hop songs and mainstream pop material received mixed reviews from music critics. "Pound the Alarm" and "Va Va Voom" were released as the final singles from the album. Minaj began her headlining Pink Friday Tour on May 16, 2012, which was followed by the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour beginning October 14.