Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj (/mɪˈnɑːʒ/), is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, actress, and model. Born in Saint James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Queens, New York City, she gained public recognition after releasing the mixtapes Playtime Is Over (2007), Sucka Free (2008), and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009).
After signing with Young Money Entertainment in 2009, Minaj released her first studio album, Pink Friday (2010), which peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 and was ultimately certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, was released in 2012 and debuted at number one in several countries. Minaj made her film debut in the 2012 animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift. In 2013, she was a judge on the twelfth season of American Idol. Minaj’s third studio album, The Pinkprint, was released in 2014. She subsequently played supporting roles in the films The Other Woman (2014) and Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016). Her fourth studio album, Queen, was released in 2018.
Early in her career, Minaj was known for her colorful costumes and wigs. Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow and the use of alter egos and accents, primarily British cockney. Minaj was the first female artist included on MTV’s annual Hottest MC List. In 2016, Minaj was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. As a lead artist, she has earned four top-five entries on the Billboard Hot 100: “Super Bass” in 2011, “Starships” in 2012, and “Bang Bang” and “Anaconda”, both in 2014. She has accumulated the most Billboard Hot 100 entries among women of all genres.
Minaj has been called one of the most influential female rap artists of all time. Throughout her career, she has received numerous accolades, including six American Music Awards, 11 BET Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, a Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award, and 10 Grammy Award nominations. Minaj has sold 20 million singles as a lead artist, 60 million singles as a featured artist, and over five million albums worldwide, making her one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
Minaj officially announced her fourth album, Queen, on the red carpet at the 2018 Met Gala; the album was scheduled to be released on June 15, 2018. Its lead single, “Chun-Li”, was released on April 12, 2018, and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Another single, “Barbie Tingz”, was also released alongside “Chun-Li”, but ultimately did not make the final album cut. It is, however, included on the Target version of the album. A promotional single, “Rich Sex”, featuring American rapper Lil Wayne, was released on June 11, 2018. The album’s second single, “Bed”, featuring Ariana Grande, was released on June 14, 2018 alongside the album pre-order, and peaked at number 42 on the Hot 100.
On May 19, 2018, Minaj was the musical guest for the finale of the 43rd season of Saturday Night Live; the show was hosted by Tina Fey and Minaj performed “Chun-Li” and “Poke It Out”, alongside rapper Playboi Carti. Minaj later announced via her Instagram account that she was pushing back the release date of Queen from June 15 to August 10, 2018. In early June 2018, Minaj released the cover art for the album on Twitter, shot by Mert and Marcus, which features Minaj topless, wearing pasties, with a Cleopatra-inspired head-dress, and revealed that her next tour would be a double-header with rapper Future. On June 23, 2018, she performed a medley of “Chun-Li” and “Rich Sex” at the 2018 BET Awards.
On July 22, 2018, Tekashi 6ix9ine’s single “Fefe”, which featured Minaj, debuted at number four, and later peaked at number three, on the Billboard Hot 100. “Fefe” marked Minaj’s highest bow on the Hot 100 chart as a featured artist, besting the number six start of “Bang Bang” in 2014. Minaj was also featured on 6ix9ine’s song “Mama”, along with Kanye West. Both songs were included on 6ix9ine’s debut album Dummy Boy.
On August 1, 2018, Minaj pushed back Queen once again, to August 17, 2018. Minaj ultimately released Queen on August 10, 2018, a week ahead of schedule. The day before the release of the album, Minaj launched her own Beats 1 radio show, Queen Radio. Queen debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 185,000 album-equivalent units, of which 78,000 came from pure album sales. It also debuted at number five in the UK and at number four in Australia, marking the highest debut of Minaj’s career in the latter country. Upon debuting second on the Billboard 200, Minaj expressed frustration and criticized several people in a series of tweets, including Travis Scott, whose album Astroworld claimed the top spot for a second week in a row, blocking Queen from number one. Queen’s roll-out and the ensuing controversy was criticized by several news outlets and commentators. “Fefe” was added to the album in the middle of its first tracking week.
Queen received generally favorable reviews, though some critics took issue with the album’s length and lyrical content. Mosi Reeves of Rolling Stone wrote that Queen “brings a new Nicki Minaj character: the regal, haughty monarch, a woman who insists on sword-sharpened rhymes as a prerogative for excellence”, however noted it to have “a flabby, meandering mid-section”. In a mixed review, Bryan Rolli of Forbes concluded that Queen is “a great 10-song album hiding inside a messy 19-song album”, though complimented Minaj’s lyricism, and said the album “gives fans plenty to sink their teeth into”. For The Washington Post, Chris Richards said, “Queen only feels connected to the current rap zeitgeist in the saddest way — as another portrait of a visionary rapper in decline A great Nicki Minaj comeback album would be the first great Nicki Minaj album, period.”
Following the release of Queen, Minaj released a music video for the album’s opening track, “Ganja Burns”. “Barbie Dreams” was sent to rhythmic contemporary radio on August 14, 2018, as the album’s third single. On August 20, Minaj won her fourth MTV Video Music Award for the “Chun-Li” music video, at the 35th annual ceremony. Later that month, BTS’ single, “Idol”, featuring Minaj, was released; it debuted and peaked at number 11 on Billboard Hot 100, marking it as the group’s second highest charting song.
On September 2, 2018, Minaj co-headlined the annual Made in America Festival. The following week, on September 4, Minaj appeared as a guest and performed several songs on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Throughout the episode, Minaj and Degeneres, with the participation of Walmart, gave out over $150,000 in donations to fans.
On October 12, 2018, British girl group Little Mix released their single, “Woman Like Me”, which features Minaj. The single debuted at number 5 in the UK. A music video, which features Minaj wearing “Elizabethan ruff and not much else”, was released the same month. A BBC writer opined that the video “tackle[s] gender stereotypes”.
Minaj was featured on Tyga’s song “Dip”, which reached number 63 on the Hot 100, becoming her 100th entry on the chart, thus extending her record as the female artist with the most entries and fourth overall.
In December 2018, it was announced Minaj have a voice role in The Angry Birds Movie 2, set for release on August 16, 2019.