Onika Maraj (born December 8, 1984), better known as Nicki Minaj, is a female rapper of African, Chinese, and Indo Trinidadian descent from Southside Jamaica, Queens, New York, NY.
Minaj graduated from LaGuardia High School in Manhattan where she studied singing and acting. She started off singing background vocals and hooks for local rappers. In order to stand out from other aspiring singers, she began writing raps, and started out as the lone female in a group, (which she left in 2006).
Minaj was discovered on MySpace by Dirty Money CEO Fendi, who signed her to his Dirty Money label. After appearing on The Carter Edition of Dirty Money's The Come Up DVD series, Minaj was contacted by Lil WayneWho Also Signed her To Young Money Ent As The 1st Lady Of Both Dirty Money & Young Money. The two collaborated on a number of mixtape tracks. In April 2007, she released her first mixtape, Playtime Is Over, where she posed as a Barbie doll on the cover. Lil’ Wayne appeared on the track "Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop".
Minaj, who sometimes goes by the name Nicki Lewinsky (due to her proximity to the president of her record label), shared management with Gucci Mane and OJ Da Juiceman, and collaborated numerous times with members of that crew.
In 2008, Minaj released her mixtape, Sucka Free. Minaj appeared in the July issue of XXL magazine, giving a brief overview of her life up to that point in time. Later that year, Minaj won Female Artist of the Year at the Underground Music Awards.
Minaj released Beam Me Up Scotty, another mixtape, in 2009. It received generally positive coverage on the websites of both BET and MTV.