Before becoming known for her bright pink hair and over-the-top outfits, Onika Maraj worked as a waitress at Red Lobster in Bronx, New York. After moving away from jobs in the food industry, Nicki Minaj worked to pursue her career in music. She was signed briefly with the Brooklyn-based group Full Force as part of The Hoodstars, a quartet comprised of Minaj Lou$star and Safaree Samuels. Upon leaving the group, Nicki began uploading music to Myspace, and was later scouted by Dirty Money Entertainment in 2007. Between 2007 and 2009, Minaj released three mixtapes—Playtime Is Over, Sucka Free, and Beam Me Up Scotty—the latter of which lead to her discovery by Lil Wayne, and a contract with Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records.
Nicki Minaj began releasing music under Young Money in 2010, dropping hit after hit. During that year, she unveiled seven singles, all of which appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Tracks like “Moment 4 Life” featuring Drake and “Super Bass” were set to appear on her forthcoming debut album Pink Friday, which debuted at No. 2 on the chart and was certified platinum later that year. In 2012, the project was followed by Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, wherein Nicki Minaj’s genre-bending music was on full display. The project met at the confluence between rap and pop, with tracks like “Starships.” Though the blending of genres was not met without criticism, the single went on to become a massive commercial success.
Minaj landed various awards, countless features, and even movie roles in films like The Other Woman and Barbershop: The Next Cut. She dropped The Pinkprint, her second studio album, in 2014, taking the criticism of her music being too “pop-like” head on. The single “Anaconda” was a viral hit, breaking Miley Cyrus’s previously held Vevo record for the most views in one day, with a whopping 19.6 million views. Nicki received multiple Grammy nominations that year, including one for the track “Bang Bang” featuring Jessie J and Ariana Grande and one for Best Rap Album.
Now, Nicki Minaj is coming off the heels of Queen, her 2018 project marked by controversy, a beef with Cardi B, and a magical feature by Ariana Grande. The lead single “Chun-Li” was inspired by the eponymous Street Fighter character and earned her an MTV Video Music Award. After the album’s release, Minaj dropped music videos for the tracks “Ganja Burns” and “Barbie Dreams,” the latter of which was played live during her Beats 1 Queen Radio show in promotion of the song.