Nicki Minaj is a bit like Marmite — you either love her or hate her.
But whether you made a point of learning every last lyric of the Starships rap and have shares in your own hair dye company, or reach at break-neck speed when the pops star comes on air, there’s no denying she’s an interesting character.
Known for her outrageous costumes, colourful make-up, animated performances and outspoken comments, Minaj is one of the top female rappers on the planet today.
Her 2010 debut album Pink Friday has sold nearly two million copies and she has worked with artists including Kanye West, Rihanna, Eminem, David Guetta and M-I-A.
As with most in the limelight, the highs are as constant as the lows. This week alone she has bagged more money than Beyonce to host a NYE party in Las Vegas. Reports out yesterday claim Minaj will take home an impressive $5million to lead a raucous party at Pure Nightclub at Caesars Palace while Bey will pick up only $4 hosting an invitation-only party at the Wynn Hotel.
Ahead of her debut performance at Meydan by Atelier Live on Friday tabloid! brings you the things you need to know about Nicki Minaj.
• As with many artists, Nicki Minaj isn’t her real name. The 30-year-old (birthday December 8) was actually born Onika Tanya Maraj, in Saint James, Trinidad & Tabago.
• She is a queen of the music charts. When her debut album, Pink Friday, premiered at No 2 on the Billboard 200 in November 2010, it marked the first time a female rapper in a decade has ever made it to the top 10 of the album chart. Her infectious single Super Bass climbed to No 3 on the Hot 100 making it the highest-charting rap hit by a solo female (without a featured artist) since Missy Elliott’s Work It reached No 2 in 2002.
• Her clothes are just as famous as her face/voice. Dubai’s very own Furne One has been designing clothes for Minaj for a number of seasons now, including some of her videos and ad campaigns. The UAE-based designer has also whipped up a few creations which will feature in tomorrow’s show.
• Minaj used to be Cookie. Before she chose her name she went through various rap incarnations. “Cookie was my first identity — that stayed with me for a while,” she told New York Magazine. “I went on to Harajuku Barbie, then Nicki Minaj. Fantasy was my reality. I must have been such an annoying little girl.”
• Liars just don’t cut it. In a video interview, Minaj revealed she hates the “liars” of the music game. “I’m sick and tired of liars,” she says. “I like people to be upfront and straight-forward with me and I tend to do that with people. So that’s why the lying irritates me and in this business there’s a lot of that. Now, I’m starting to believe that you can’t be in this business without being lied to and it’s kind of sad.”
• Nicknames keep her sane. Minaj has several different aliases including The Ninja, The Harajuku Barbie, Nicki Lewinski. She has an alter ego called Roman Zolanski, a violent little boy she claims lives inside of her.
• Jay-Z is her favourite rapper. She studied Jay-Z’s album Vol 2: Hard Knock Life while developing her lyrical style. “I was always attracted to intelligent rappers,” she said in an interview with #5 magazine. “That’s why I’m so into metaphors and I love double-meanings of things . . . Because all of my favourite rappers… That’s what they do and it intrigued me.”
• She wouldn’t have made manager at Red Lobster. Some of her previous employment experiences include an office manager and a waitress at Red Lobster. “I chased a customer out of the restaurant once so I could stick my middle finger up at her and demand that she give me my pen back,” she recalls to Billboard. “I swear to God I was bad.”
• Tattoo. While other rappers are often covered from head to toe in ink Minaj has just one which reads “God you are always with me” in Chinese characters.
• Twitter girl. With 7.5 million followers on Twitter and 14 million friends on Facebook, she’s grateful to have so many Barbiez and Ken Barbiez (fans) supporting her movement. “It’s a blessing!” she tells Teen Vogue about having so many fans. “They feel like my little sisters and brothers. I have this urge to protect them and have fun with them at the same time.”
• She is a Barbie doll. The rapper partnered with toy maker Mattel to create a one-of-a-kind Nicki Minaj Barbie doll which was auctioned off for charity for around $15,000 for Project Angel Food. “For me, this is a very major moment because it just shows that you can come from nothing and still be a force in the main world, a businesswoman, and hopefully a mogul one day,” she says.
• Rappers beef. It’s the usual in rap for the lads so why not the girls? Minaj has an on-going feud of her own with Lil’ Kim. The two have swapped verbal jabs at each other on several tracks, and Nicki’s popular song Roman’s Revenge is widely considered a diss against Lil’ Kim.
• Heavy home. According to Minaj, she did not have pleasant childhood. She told an American magazine when she was a child her father was a heavy drinker, and once burned their house down with her mother inside.
• The judge. We knew it was a wise decision to pip Minaj against Mariah Carey on American Idol. All those rumours of a flare-up between the new judges on set during auditions has only made us more eager for the show’s premiere on January 17 in the UAE on OSN First HD.
Don’t miss it
Nicki Minaj’s Meydan concert on December 28 is open to all ages. Tickets are Dh450 (general access, the closest to the stage) and Dh650 (VIP lounge, which is on the sides of the general area, over 21s only. Vip ticket holders receive the same value of their ticket in complimentary house beverages), on sale now at TheAtelierWorld.com, Virgin Megastores, Vox Cinemas, the Atelier stand at JBR’s The Walk and at selected Enoc and Eppco petrol stations. Doors open at 8pm. Visit TheAtelierWorld.com for more information.