Love her or hate her, you can’t deny Nicki Minaj’s resounding global star presence. Since she burst on the scene with nothing but a few mixtapes, Minaj hasn’t stopped blowing up the charts and turning heads with her colorful hair choices and outspoken nature.
Part-time humanitarian, full-time controversial envelope-pusher, and continuously inspiring female rapper of the century, Minaj has firmly secured the throne—and it doesn’t look like she’s moving from it anytime soon. Read on to unwrap 24 facts about this bad babe.
24. A Star is Born
“Nicki Minaj” began as an alter-ego but later became her stage name. She was born Onika Tanya Maraj. If you’re having trouble pronouncing her real first name, it’s “O-nee-ka.”
23. She Hates It
She actually loathes the name Nicki Minaj. On one of the first production deals she signed, she says she was coerced and later convinced into keeping the name. She fought hard to change it, but it stuck.
22. Tough Decision
As a teen, Minaj became pregnant. The decision to have an abortion was very difficult for her, and she says it was the hardest thing she’s ever gone through. Minaj has stated that she wasn’t ready, and that she didn’t have anything to offer the child at the time. Her experience is touched upon in the song “All Things Go.”
21. Tough Times
When she was only 5 years old, Nicki’s alcoholic, drug-addicted father almost killed Nicki’s mother by setting fire to the family home–with Minaj’s mother still inside.
Despite her early struggles, Nicki has gone on to be one of the most successful female rappers of all time.
20. Not So Good With People
Once upon a time, Minaj’s first job was as a server at Red Lobster. She didn’t last very long though: she was fired from this job and “at least 15” other jobs because she wasn’t courteous to customers. Minaj also worked as an administrative assistant in customer service and as an office manager for a Wall Street business.
19. Plastic Surgery Rumors
When it comes to accusations that Nicki’s had some work done, her response is simple: “I don’t mind the questions, I don’t mind the fascination—It doesn’t define me.”
In fact, Nicki almost welcomes the chatter, adding, “People are sitting in the barbershop talking about my butt, it’s conversational. As long as they’re talking about Nicki Minaj, I’m good.”
18. She Flat Out Denies Surgery In One Area
In one interview, Nicki said, “I’ve never had surgery on my face. They’ll see contour and they’ll think you had surgery on your nose, no no no, look at RuPaul’s Drag Race and you’ll see how you can make your nose look any shape you want.”
17. Serious Beef with Mariah Carey
Back in 2013, Nicki and Mariah were co-judges on Season 12 of American Idol. Unfortunately, the two stars didn’t get along so well. In fact, Mariah said that working with Nicki was like “going to work every day in hell with Satan.” Mariah later added, “I’m just playing; it didn’t affect me that much.”
Joke or no joke, there was certainly a lot of on-screen bickering between the stars throughout the season.
16. A Natural Inclination
In elementary school, Minaj played the clarinet and took up drama at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Queens. The school was where the hit film Fame took inspiration from, and where she started to perfect her rap skills at lunchtime.
15. New Boyfriend
In December 2018, Nicki made her relationship with Kenneth Petty Instagram-official. Of course, it didn’t take long for the internet to do some digging on Petty, and it was discovered that Nicki’s new beau had previously been convicted of first-degree attempted rape and manslaughter.
14. Regardless, Nicki and Kenneth Are Going Strong
At least, that’s what one would assume considering after a few months of dating, Kenneth decided to get a tattoo of Nicki’s real name, Onika, on his neck. To be fair, the two have known each other longer than just a few months. According to Nicki, she knew Kenneth before she was famous, and he had shown interest in her even back then.
Tweeted Nicki, “He was on my body b4 the big ol’ ghetto booty. B4 the fame & fortune. Fought my bf cuz I wouldn’t be his girl. He was always a lil brazy. But anyway, timing is everything.”
13. Babies In The Near Future?
Recently, after a fan tweeted Nicki that they had some future baby name suggestions for the rapper, Nicki replied, “We already chose them babe. Lol but thx.” Naturally, this set off a flurry of speculation that Nicki was either planning to have a children with Kenneth, or was already pregnant.
Then, when a fan expressed their concern for a possible pregnancy getting in the way of Nicki’s upcoming tour, Nicki responded, “Nothing is getting in the way of the US TOUR boo boo.” Of course, that sparked further questions, as Nicki didn’t outright deny any baby rumors.
12. But Many Fans Were Bothered By Nicki’s Statement
As mentioned earlier, Nicki’s boyfriend has a very serious criminal past, and many of Nicki’s fans don’t approve of the notion that she may be considering having children with Kenneth. In fact, several tweeted to show their disapproval.
Again, regardless, Nicki doesn’t appear to be swaying on her opinion if Kenneth.
11. Fantasy as Reality
This gal knows how to put on a show. Minaj has multiple personalities, or alter egos, many of which were developed at a young age to help her through a traumatic childhood. The earliest one was “Cookie,” followed by “Harajuku Barbie.” Others include “Gangsta Moll” and “Roman Zolanski.”
10. Quite the Character
A little more about “Roman.” Roman Zolanski is a little red-haired gay British boy who lives inside of her and has violent tendencies. The first mention of him was on Twitter, where Minaj stated that she had changed her name and she would only respond to Roman Zolanski. He is more outspoken than Minaj, and he later became Minaj’s “twin sister,” who she described as “crazy and conspicuously female.”
9. What Goes up Doesn’t Have to Take the Escalator Down
Not only does Minaj have a fear of heights, the songstress also has escalaphobia–a fear of escalators. At the NBA Players Association Gala, Minaj refused to go down the escalator, demanding that the photographers come up to meet her instead.
8. Fake Throwbacks
The internet has a nasty tendency for claiming they have found old photos of Nicki Minaj when, in fact, the photos are not of the rapper. For example, the photo below was first believed to be a young Nicki, until later it was discovered that it was photoshopped.
7. It Happened Again
A similar situation occurred when the internet began claiming that the photo below was a young Nicki. Turns out, it wasn’t Nicki, either. It was just someone who looked like her.
6. Who’s to Judge?
There are a few people who can leave Minaj starstruck, including Madonna and Meryl Streep. However, the one idol she’d love to meet is Judith Sheindlin, more commonly known as Judge Judy. Minaj thinks she’s hilarious and admires her ability to remain straightforward.
5. Wearing Many Hats
Minaj has expressed concern about the pressures of being a girl. She says that as a girl you have to be sweet, you have to be sexy, you have to be nice, you have to be this and that–she just wants to be a human being.
4. A Regretful Reminder
One of Nicki’s biggest regrets happened when she was 16 years old: Getting her famous Chinese character tattoo. When Nicki went home and showed her mother the tat (and explained it’s meaning), her mother said, “I am disowning you.” FYI, it translates to “God is with me always.” Regardless, Nicki’s mother wasn’t a fan of her daughter getting tatted up.
“I wish I never got the tattoo, because it’s on my arm” says Nicki. “So when I wanna wear a beautiful evening gown and go out with the queen, she doesn’t like my tattoo too much.”
3. School is Cool
One evening via Twitter, Minaj offered to pay for the college tuition, student loans, or other fees incurred by higher education for 30 fans who had 4.0 GPAs. Anywhere from $500 for books to $6,000 for tuition under the condition they provide verification and confirmation from their schools. Fans created the hashtag #NickiBBMAs and Minaj stepped up to the plate, asking fans to direct message her their bank information.
2. Girl Power
Minaj’s early struggles and what she saw her mom go through pushed her to excel in her own life. She says she was very aware of female empowerment, and wanted her mother to be stronger. It was this mentality that fuelled Minaj’s drive to succeed to not only change her own life, but the life of her mother.
1. The Greater Good
Collaborating with MAC cosmetics for the second time (she was chosen twice because of her “incredible star power”), Minaj’s limited edition Viva Glam lipstick collection helped raise $250 million, with the profits supporting men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS–and in 2013 it was the #1 selling Viva Glam lipstick of all time.