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5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Nicki Minaj


Nicki Minaj has never shied away from stirring the pot. In the years since her meteoric rise to hip-hop stardom with Pink Friday, her debut album, in 2010, she’s entered battle with the likes of Cardi B, Remy Ma, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and the music industry more generally in the public forum—sometimes in (amazing) diss tracks. But Minaj is, of course, much more than her feuds: Besides being the world’s best-selling female rapper by a long shot, she is also a very talented—and very meticulous—songwriter (she recorded some 27 versions of her 2014 hit “Anaconda” before deeming it fit for release) and mother to a young son.
Here, five things you likely didn’t know about the queen of the Barbz.
1. Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Her stage name was not her choice: “Somebody changed my name,” she told The Guardian in 2012. “One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.”

2. “Nicki Minaj” isn’t the only persona she’s developed. She explained to New York magazine in 2010 that her alter egos emerged from her difficult upbringing. “To get away from all [my parents’] fighting, I would imagine being a new person,” Minaj said. “Cookie was my first identity—that stayed with me for a while. I went on to Harajuku Barbie, then Nicki Minaj. Fantasy was my reality. I must have been such an annoying little girl.”

3. In 2010, she told Billboard that she’d lost many jobs—most notably a waitressing gig in New York City—due to her attitude. “I worked at Red Lobster…and I chased a customer out of the restaurant once so I could… demand that she give me my pen back,” she said.

4. Minaj was initially discovered through her MySpace account. Dirty Money Records CEO Fendi reportedly first heard Minaj’s music on the social network site and signed her to his label. (Fendi is also credited with introducing Minaj to Lil Wayne and Young Money.) In 2013, Minaj told Teen Vogue: “My journey to who I am today began on MySpace. I love getting real opinions from people.”

5. In an honestly incredible feat of discretion, even now—three full years after his birth, in July of 2020—Minaj has not publicly revealed the name of her son, referring to him only as “Papa Bear.” All the same, she is as doting and determined a parent as you’d imagine: “I look in my son’s face, and my whole soul lights up,” she tells Rob Haskell in her Vogue cover story. “He has no clue how nerve-racking it’s been for me to be a mother and an artist.”

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