New Artist – Nicki Minaj
Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1984), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, is an American rapper and singer-songwriter. In August 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Entertainment with distribution from Universal Motown.
Minaj was born to parents of Indian and Afro Trinidadian descent. She lived in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago with her grandmother until age five when she moved to the Queens borough of New York City. According to Minaj, her father drank alcohol, took drugs, and once tried to kill her mother by setting the house on fire. She attended Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210 and graduated from LaGuardia High School. At LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts, Minaj participated in the drama program. She once worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in the Bronx. Her birthplace is disputed, with some sources claiming Queens, New York, and some Trinidad.
While growing up Nicki was surrounded by constant trouble and fighting between her parents. To escape her real life problems she would create characters and live her life through them. In an interview with New York she stated, “[t]o get away from all their fighting, I would imagine being a new person. "Cookie" was my first identity—that stayed with me for a while. I went on to "Harajuku Barbie", then "Nicki Minaj". Fantasy was my reality.”
For her debut album, Minaj created another alter-ego named "Roman Zolanski". She stated that in songs like "Bottoms Up" with Trey Songz it is not Nicki rapping, but instead Roman Zolanski. In songs such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)" it is Nicki rapping. Minaj stated that on her debut album, fans will get to "meet" Nicki, Roman and Onika.