I don’t usually do this, but I had so much fun (I’m a geek, I know) writing it, I just wanted to share. It’s a little profile on my current musical obsession, Nicki Minaj (who I’ve discussed here a few times already) for a Uni assignment :)
Nicki Minaj’s eagerly anticipated debut album has finally been given a tentative release date. In a press release from Cash Money Records, it is revealed that the newcomer’s disc will be on shelves by this autumn, with Minaj pledging to acquire longevity with her unique vocal style.
Earlier this year, Minaj exploded onto the music scene, before declaring that she plans to climb over every barrier she comes across to achieve worldwide success. And judging by her career plan so far, she’s going the right way about it.
This determination stems all the way back to Minaj’s childhood. Onika (as she was known then) grew up in Queens, New York, studying singing and acting at the LaGuardia High School in Manhattan (other notable alumni include Slick Rick, Kelis and even Liza Minelli). But the household she was a part of suffered constant abuse. One particular incident saw her alcoholic father try to murder her mother by setting the house on fire. “If I’m successful,” Minaj later stated, “I can change her life.” And so her path was set.
Throughout 2004, Minaj mostly sang background vocals and hooks for a variety of local rappers. She was “discovered” on MySpace and signed the Dirty Money label, where she caught the eye of Lil Wayne. The two swiftly hit the studio together to work on the first of Nicki’s mix tapes, and she’s never looked back.
Deciding she’d rather build up a respectable underground profile before tackling the charts, Minaj was featured on around 18 album tracks and 11 remix’s, each becoming more and more high profile (including an appearance on Up Out My Face from Mariah Carey’s recently cancelled remix album). After working with Robin Thicke on Sex Therapy, he described her as a “very special young lady” and further admitting that he thought she was “very smart… she’s going to have a very long career.”
Her first foray into the charts was with the smash hit, BedRock, a collaborative effort with her Young Money label mates. This includes Lil Wayne and rapper Drake who went on to claim Minaj as the “love” of his life. “We have the most interesting relationship,” he revealed in an interview with XXL magazine, “because it’s so multilayered… Nicki’s a very intriguing character.”
When Minaj appeared alongside legendary female rapper Eve in the video for Ludacris’ My Chick Bad, Eve fans reportedly called on the star to put the newcomer in her place, show her who’s boss. But Eve insisted that her busy schedule keeps her from focusing on the success of other mainstream female rappers. She even went on to praise Nicki, calling her “quirky.” Of the Freddy Krueger gloves that Minaj wears in the video, she said “Whatever you decide to do, especially in music, you gotta go hard and own it… and she did.”
And the praise from legends of hip-hop refuses to end there. It was recently revealed that even superstar Jay-Z is a fan. “It was like getting that stamp of approval from the most popular jock in high school,” Minaj said of her surprise, “… being a freshman in high school and thinking no one knows you exist.”
But it certainly looks like soon everyone will know the name Nicki Minaj. Current single Massive Attack (along with the outlandish, Hype Williams-directed video) has received an encouraging positive response, especially from MTV who complimented it and stated “We L-U-V [Nicki] because she’s a trendsetter and a strident, unique artist. But with great style comes great responsibility.”
She may have been kicked off of Rihanna’s The Last Girl on Earth tour (depending on who you believe), but Minaj has bigger plans in store. “I want to start a new lane,” she says, “that one day, ten years from now, girls will say, ‘I’m more of a Nicki Minaj type’.”