Nicki Minaj was born in 1982 in Saint James, (a suburb of Trinidad and Tobago's capital city Port of Spain). Her parents were of mixed Indian and Afro-Trinidadian ancestry and she lived in Saint James with her grandmother until age five, because her parents were looking for a place to live in the Queens borough of New York City at the time. Her mother would occasionally visit, and one day, when Minaj was five, her mother picked her up to move to Queens. According to Minaj, her father drank heavily, took drugs, and once tried to kill her mother by setting the house on fire.
Nicki Minaj attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet. She graduated from LaGuardia High School. At LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts, Minaj participated in the drama program. She had initially planned to sing at LaGuardia, but lost her voice on the day of the audition.
2007–09: Mixtapes and Young Money
Nicki Minaj released her first mixtape in 2007 after releasing Playtime Is Over with Dirty Money Records. She released another mixtape on July 7, 2008, titled Sucka Free, under the label Be. On April 18, 2009, Minaj released a third mixtape and appeared in XXL magazine. She won the Female Artist of the Year award at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. Minaj released Beam Me Up Scotty, another mixtape, in April 2009 under the label of Trapaholics Records; it received positive coverage on both BET and MTV.
In August 2009, Nicki Minaj signed a record deal with Young Money Entertainment, with distribution from Universal Motown Records, after fellow American rapper Lil Wayne discovered her and secured the record deal. She then had a solo rap verse in their single "BedRock," which became a commercial success, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj also appeared on "Roger That", which charted at #56. The song, and in particular Minaj, received positive reviews from critics. Both songs were included in Young Money Entertainment's debut collaborative studio album We Are Young Money, which was released in December 2009. The album charted in the top ten on the Billboard Hot 200, reaching #9 and later receiving a Gold Certification by the RIAA.
2010–present: Pink Friday and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
After a major record label bidding war, Young Money Entertainment announced on August 31, 2009 that Nicki Minaj had been released a 360 deal with the label in which she retains and owns all of her 360 rights – including merchandising, sponsorships, endorsements, touring and publishing. In an interview with 95.8 Capital FM, Rihanna stated that after the two collaborated on "Raining Men" from her album Loud that the duo would be teaming up together for a possible second collaboration on Minaj's Pink Friday. Hip-hop rap artist and producer Kanye West was also confirmed for the album. On August 3, 2010 Minaj revealed on a Ustream.tv channel for her fans that the album's name would be Pink Friday, stating, “To carry on a great tradition of Black Friday, we are going to switch it up this year in honor of the Nicki Minaj album and call that day Pink Friday, and call my album Pink Friday!” Nicki Minaj released the artwork for her album cover on October 15, 2010.
Pink Friday was released on November 19, 2010 in both standard and deluxe versions. A buzz single, "Massive Attack", was released in April. In August, Minaj released "Your Love" as the first official single from her debut album. The single peaked at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and topped the Rap Songs chart. Minaj became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List and the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. In October 2010, Nicki Minaj became the first artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously. Minaj released a joint single with The Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am titled, "Check It Out", which is Minaj's most successful single to date in Europe. "Right thru Me" was released September 24, 2010; the music video was released in late October. "Moment 4 Life" followed "Right thru Me" and was released as the fourth overall single. The track featured Canadian rapper, Drake, which was released on December 7, 2010, which has been a success on the Billboard Hot 100. The single has peaked at number 5 on the Hot Rap Songs. The album gained a Platinum certification in the United States a month after the release.
On November 22, 2011, Nicki Minaj announced via Twitter that her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, is currently in the works set to be released on Valentine's Day 2012. She later retweeted to one of her fans saying that she would release a teaser of the LP's first single on the week of December 6th-9th. The first single from the album, titled "Roman in Moscow," was released to iTunes and to the radio on December 2, 2011. The cover has a red background with the name Nicki Minaj crossed out and instead saying Roman in Moscow. On the top Nicki Minaj songs on iTunes, "Roman in Moscow" ranked number three.