Nicki Minaj is arguably the most recognizable female face in the American rap industry. However, she wasn’t born in the United States.
Nicki Minaj was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. She lived there until she was 5 years old when she moved to Queens, New York City, and was reunited with her mother, who had been studying in New York.
Stick around to learn about the inspiring details of Nicki Minaj’s early life.
The Early Years of Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj, whose birth name is Onika Tanya Maraj, was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, on December 8, 1982. Nicki lived with her grandmother and one of her siblings in Saint James, while her mother studied at college in the US.
When Nicki was 5 years old, her mother arranged for her family to relocate to Queens, New York City.
Her mother then got jobs in payroll and accounting, as well as working as a gospel singer. The star’s father also worked part-time as a gospel singer, as well as a financial executive.
The young Nicki’s life was not an easy one. Her father was an alcoholic and drug addict, who had a bad temper and didn’t treat her mother well.
Talking to Rolling Stone, she said, “When I first came to America, I would go in my room and kneel down at the foot of my bed and pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother.”
She continued, “I always felt like if I took care of my mother, my mother wouldn’t have to stay with my father, and he was the one at the time, that was bringing us pain. We didn’t want him around at all, and so I always felt like being rich would cure everything, and that was always what drove me.”
The singer has certainly achieved her dream of becoming financially successful, since she is considered to be the richest female rapper of all time, with an estimated net worth of $100 million.
Nicki’s Troubled Relationship with her Father
Nicki Minaj has talked about how she feared for her mother’s life, and that her father would threaten to kill her when she was a child. Her father has denied that the claims about him were as serious as laid out by his daughter, although Nicki maintains that the stories are unembellished.
It is known, however, that the singer’s childhood home in Trinidad and Tobago was burned down by her father one night.
In an interview with Wendy Williams, the singer recounted how her mother had had a premonition about the blaze that may have saved her and her brother’s life.
She said, “[My mother] had a dream the night before that the house was going to be burned down so she had me and my brother sleep at a friend’s house.”
She continued, “And at three in the morning they woke us up and said, ‘You have to go to your house, something’s happened.’ We ran four or five blocks [towards home] and we just saw smoke.”
Despite the fatherly feud, the singer says she has forgiven her dad and that her father has told her he loves her as much as always.
Nicki didn’t find her groove in music straight away. After graduating from high school, Nicki auditioned and got the part for an Off-Broadway production of In Case You Forget in 2001.
With her acting career failing to take off in the way she wanted, Nicki held odd jobs, such as waitressing for Red Lobster. However, she was fired from this particular job after an altercation with a customer.
She recounted the details of the incident, saying “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. I swear to God I was bad.”
She commented on how she’s been fired from at least 15 jobs for her attitude towards customers and staff.
It was in 2004 that Nicki got involved in music, and was briefly part of the rap group “Full Force.” She started uploading music to MySpace and began to amass a following. She released her first mixtape in 2007.
It was until 2010, however, that she finally achieved mainstream success, with a single from her album Pink Friday. The track, “Your Love,” reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as the top spot on the Billboard Rap Songs chart.
The album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
Watch the music video for “Your Love” below.