The Untold Truth Of Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj has experienced a lot of "firsts" during her career as a rapper. As BET noted, Minaj can lay claim to being the first female rapper to perform solo at the Grammy Awards, the first artist with seven songs on Billboard's Hot 100, and the first woman to chart four songs in the top 10 of Billboard's Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Chart simultaneously. Meanwhile, in August 2022 she became the first female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 since 1998.

As Biography pointed out, Nicki Minaj isn't even her real name — she was born Onika Tanya Maraj in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, moving to Queens, New York with her family when she was just five. Overcoming a difficult childhood, Minaj has demonstrated stunning talent and steely determination to make it to the heights of the music industry, where she remains a force to be reckoned with. Heck, she was even named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World back in 2016.

Arguably one of the most famous people on the planet, this wildly popular hitmaker is no stranger to making headlines, yet there's still much about her that may not be common knowledge to even her biggest fans. Find out more by reading further to explore the untold truth of Nicki Minaj.

Her first taste of music success was connected to the WWE

Nicki Minaj broke out as a rapper with the release of her first mixtape, 2007's "Playtime is Over." Prior to that, noted Us Weekly, she was one of four members of the rap group The Hoodstars (although at the time she was still using her original surname, Maraj). As original Hoodstars member 7even Up recalled in an interview with VladTV, Minaj's "competitive nature [was evident] from the very, very beginning, from the first day we met."

Despite the talent involved, The Hoodstars didn't experience much success. The group did, however, brush close to fame thanks to one of their songs being chosen as the entrance song for WWE Diva Victoria. That song, "Don't Mess With," opened with Minaj's distinctive voice warning listeners that "I ain't the lady to mess with." 

According to Lisa Marie Varon, who was known as Victoria during her days in the WWE, she was looking for a new song to play when she entered the ring. Telling producers that she was really into hip-hop, she wanted a rap song that featured a prominent female voice. She loved The Hoodstars' track, yet didn't find out until well after Minaj had established herself as a solo artist that she possessed the voice that once ushered her into the ring. As she told Fightful, "How crazy is that? I found out that Minaj did it through social media."

Her original dream was to star on Broadway

Before going pro as a rapper with The Hoodstars, Nicki Minaj had her mind set on becoming an actor. In fact, noted People, as a teenager she pursued this dream by attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. It was during this time that the aspiring thespian showcased her acting chops in a performance for New York City casting agents. In a video obtained by British TV show "You Saw Them Here First," Minaj is seen acting out a scene with another student, throwing a prop phone with such intensity that the other actor has to duck to avoid being beaned in the skull. 

Minaj's ambitions weren't just a pipe dream. People also recalled that she'd been cast in the leading role in "In Case You Forget," a play that ran off-Broadway in 2001, with photos from the production emerging on social media two decades later; she's listed as Onika T. Maraj in the credits

Acting, she told S2S magazine, offered her a level of structure and discipline that she didn't even realize she was lacking during her teen years. "Sometimes when you don't have something it makes you subconsciously search for it even more," she said. "I don't think I had a lot of discipline in my household. My mom motivated me, but it wasn't a strict household. I kind of wanted a strict household."

Nicki Minaj returned to acting after finding fame as a rapper

After her Off-Broadway experience, Nicki Minaj shifted her focus from acting to music. However, she told MTV in a 2013 interview, she was eyeing a return to acting. "I may be working on something right now. I can't really say too much about it, but I definitely have the acting bug," she said. "That was my first love, so you just never know." She was likely referencing her small movie role in "The Other Woman," subsequently telling MTV News that the role was "very tiny," but enough to "get [her] feet wet." Once she'd done it, she explained further, "now that I know it's something I can do, I think I want to expand a role eventually." 

That opportunity came with "Nicki," a TV pilot for the Freeform network described as an "autobiographical comedy" based on her own life. The production was apparently troubled; in 2016, The Hollywood Reporter noted that "Nicki" was being retooled, and the series never saw the light of day. That same year, however, Minaj finally landed a major role, in "Barbershop: The Next Cut," with People's review describing her performance as "so commanding that while you never forget she's Nicki Minaj, you never want to stop watching her, either." 

Meanwhile, Minaj has also ventured into voice acting, playing Suglite in the animated TV series "Steven Universe," and a mammoth named Steffie in "Ice Age: Continental Drift."

She has her own video game

Beyond music and acting, Nicki Minaj has also ventured into the world of app-based video games with "The Empire." Set within the world of hip hop, players pen their own rap lyrics that will propel them to a life of superstardom — virtually, at least. According to a feature on "The Empire" in Time, players record their raps atop beats created by actual music producers, with Minaj said to be listening in occasionally and, if the mood strikes, chiming in with her thoughts.

The game is about more than music, with players also interacting with other players and even custom-designing their own luxury penthouses. For Minaj's fans, however, the biggest selling point about the 2016 game was that playing it was the only way to hear her then-new single, "Ain't Gone Do It," which was only released within the app itself; each player has the option of adding a verse to the song.

In a behind-the-scenes video, Minaj insisted she took a "hands-on" approach in the creation of the game, revealing that she carefully worked with the game's creators "to make sure it was the best game in the market." She added, "You're getting the best of both worlds. You're getting to play a game, but you also do learn about the business, so everything in this game I want to feel like reality."

Nicki Minaj has had some famous exes

Before getting married and welcoming a son, Nicki Minaj dated some famous rappers. The longest of Minaj's relationships was with rapper Safaree Samuels, who began dating when they were both part of Hoodstars. They split in 2014 after 11 years together; as Samuels complained in an interview with Power 105.1's "The Breakfast Club," he broke it off after starting to feel he "was being treated like an employee, instead of like her man."

In February 2015, Minaj began dating rapper Meek Mill, later that year confirming to Billboard, "We are really, really enjoying each other's company." However, in January 2017 she announced it was over. "To confirm, yes I am single," she tweeted. A few months later, she confirmed rumors she was dating rapper Nas during a May 2017 appearance on "The Ellen Show." By January 2018, however, a source told Us Weekly that the romance had "fizzled out," due to their respective schedules keeping them apart. "They were never in the same place at the same time, so it was hard to move their relationship forward," said the source. 

Meanwhile, rapper Drake shot down persistent rumors that he and Minaj had once had a thing — albeit not for his lack of trying. "I've always really, actually, really had a crush on her, always really loved her, and she's always just looked at me as, like, her little brother," Drake lamented to MTV2's "Sucker Free Countdown."

Her stint as an American Idol judge was marred by controversy

In 2012, Nicki Minaj signed on to be a judge on "American Idol" for the show's 12th season. She and fellow judge Mariah Carey, however, didn't exactly hit it off. In fact, rumors of strife between the two stars began to seep out during the auditions. In October 2012, TMZ obtained footage in which Minaj complained about Carey. "I told them I'm not f***in' putting up with her f***in' highness over there," she said, with Carey firing back, "Oh why, why do I have a three-year-old sitting around me?" Carey then complained that Minaj was acting "like a little crazy b****," while a source claimed that Minaj threatened to knock Carey out, and allegedly said, "If I had a gun, I would shoot her."

Things had become so strained between the two, reported The Guardian, that Carey reportedly told Barbara Walters that she "doesn't feel comfortable emotionally," and had hired extra security.

When the judges appeared together the following January at a press conference, the women shrugged off the reports of drama. "The whole thing is convoluted. It's a distraction from the show and a distraction from the contestants," said Carey, as reported by Us Weekly. "Every time we try to talk about the contestants, we have to field questions about [this]," Minaj griped, with Carey adding, "Time heals all wounds." Explained Minaj, "We're professionals. Have you ever had an argument with someone you work with?"

She's had her fair share of celebrity feuds

Mariah Carey isn't the only celebrity who's raised the ire of Nicki Minaj. Rumors of a rift between Minaj and fellow female rapper Cardi B simmered for years until the two reportedly squashed their beef during a conversation at the 2018 Met Gala. "I never was feuding with anybody; there was a misunderstanding," Cardi explained during an appearance on "The Howard Stern Show" (via People). 

However, Minaj's feud with rapper Remy Ma was very real. After the latter released the Minaj-slamming "ShETHER," reported People, Minaj responded with three scathing tracks. Then there was Minaj's brief Twitter war with Taylor Swift, with the two exchanging words via social media over Swift's nomination for Video of the Year at the 2015 MTV VMAs while Minaj was snubbed in that category; Swift ultimately apologized, admitting she'd "missed the point" of Minaj's complaint (via People). Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus was dragged into the fray when she discussed the Minaj-Swift dust-up, describing Minaj as "not too kind" in an interview with the New York Times. When Minaj took to the MTV VMA stage to accept an award, she took a shot at Cyrus, who was the show's host. "Now, back to this b**** that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press," Minaj said. "Miley, what's good?!"

As People recounted, other celebs Minaj has feuded with over the years have included Farrah Abraham, Lil Kim, Demi Lovato, and Iggy Azalea

Nicki Minaj's net worth is astronomical

Nicki Minaj has made a lot of money as a chart-topping rapper. According to Celebrity Net Worth, her personal fortune is estimated to be a staggering $100 million.  

As Money Inc. has pointed out, Minaj is not just a wildly talented entertainer, but is also a savvy businessperson. Noting that much of Minaj's wealth was generated from her music — via album sales, streaming and concert tours — she's also landed some lucrative endorsement deals with companies such as MAC Cosmetics, Adidas and Pepsi. In addition, she also generated revenue from her game app "The Empire," along with her own branded line of fragrances. She's also, along with fellow rapper Jay-Z, one of the owners of the Tidal streaming service. 

In 2022, Minaj revealed she was venturing into a whole new area, telling interviewer Joe Budden that she was preparing to launch her own management company. "I'm also doing my record company," she added, noting that she already had a few artists onboard. As she told Budden, "I would say, 'Why isn't there a female version of Jay-Z,' who at that time, even when I was coming in, we could see that he was on mogul status. So I was like, 'I'm gonna be that person, I'm gonna do that.' Even what I've done, I haven't done what I want to do, what I need to do, what I will do yet." 

She's been fired from a lot of jobs

Nicki Minaj making moves to become her own boss shouldn't be surprising, considering that she's never been great at working for others. "I'd been fired like 15 times because I had a horrible attitude," Minaj recalled in a 2010 interview with Billboard, remembering the last job she ever held was working as an office manager, and wanting to strangle an off-putting co-worker. "I worked at Red Lobster before that and 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."

As she told GQ, there was nothing special about the pen to warrant her response. "It was the principle," Minaj declared. While insisting that she actually enjoys dealing with people, she also conceded that "I don't really like a lot of bulls***, so maybe customer service wasn't the best job for me." 

Minaj also discussed her abortive Red Lobster gig during a 2012 appearance on "The Tonight Show," telling then-host Jay Leno that she became fed up with customers constantly asking for bread. "You go to the table thinking it's a big emergency and they're like: 'Can we have some more bread?'" she quipped.

The awkward reason Madame Tussauds had to remove her wax replica

In 2015, Nicki Minaj was immortalized in wax by Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas. The wax figure featured Minaj, posing provocatively on all fours, sporting the skimpy outfit she wore in the music video for her hit "Anaconda." However, staff at the famed wax museum were forced to take action when patrons of the establishment continually took photos of themselves posing with the wax Minaj in rather naughty positions, which then flooded social media. 

As The Guardian reported, one photo in particular — in which a man stood behind the wax figure to simulate an intimate act — led Madame Tussauds to redesign the display to prevent further inappropriate photos being taken. "We do have staff monitoring guest behavior in the attraction and do our utmost to ensure our wax figures are treated respectfully," said a rep for the wax museum, "but on this occasion clearly one of our hosts was not present."

In 2020, the wax figure was moved to the Madame Tussauds in Berlin, Germany, where controversy once again ensued. This time, however, the problem wasn't with rude photos being taken, reported CNN, but with fans' complaints that the wax figure didn't really resemble the actual Minaj.  

She inspired fashion designer Betsey Johnson's 2012 spring line

As celebrated as Nicki Minaj has become for her music, she's arguably just as well known for her outrageous fashion style. Minaj's onstage and red carpet looks not only attracted the attention of fans, but also famed fashion designer Betsey Johnson. In fact, Johnson told MTV News in 2012 that Minaj had inspired her spring line, describing the rapper as "just my most, most, most favorite girl right now." 

The appreciation was mutual, with Minaj gushing over Johnson, whom she'd only recently met. "She's so warm and considerate and caring," said Minaj. "She's amazingly talented and I've been wearing her clothes forever, so to meet her was like, 'Yay!' [I was] bowing down to her; she's dope!"

Minaj further demonstrated her fandom of Johnson when she invited her to be part of her 2012 Pepsi commercial. As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, Johnson can be seen in a brief cameo in the commercial, sitting in the front row of a fashion show. 

She has a lot of love for her stuffed animals

Nicki Minaj is apparently a major aficionado of stuffed animals. In fact, her love of stuffed animals came to be reflected in her fashion back in 2011, when she appeared alongside Willow Smith in the music video for "Fireball," attired in a dress made from the tiny heads of various stuffed animals. 

In 2010, she brought one of her favorites — a pink stuffed monkey named Oscar — along with her when she made an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman." However, at some point while she was traveling from New York City to Miami, she somehow misplaced Oscar, and took to social media to seek help from her fans. "Dear Barbz, have u seen Oscar?" she tweeted. "U monkey I had [when] I did Letterman...? He's gone! Plz help! All Points Bulletin: Where's Oscar?!!"

She followed up with a second tweet, offering some serious cash for the monkey's safe return. "$50,000 reward for Oscar," she wrote. "I call him Osk for short! He was last seen on a Miami bound plane from New York. Plz help!"

Her husband is an ex-con and registered sex offender

When Nicki Minaj confirmed in a 2018 Instagram post that she was dating Kenneth Petty, concerns were raised in the media about his criminal record. Petty, as Us Weekly pointed out, was a registered sex offender in the state of New York; according to the outlet, he was sentenced to between 18 and 54 months in prison after being convicted of attempted rape in 1995, but it's unclear how much time he actually spent behind bars.

The couple subsequently got married, with Minaj announcing their union via Instagram. However, Petty's past caught up with him in 2021 when he neglected to register his status as a sex offender when he and Minaj moved to California. That omission, reported the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, resulted in Petty facing a sentence of potentially 10 years in the slammer, in addition to supervised release for the rest of his life. According to People, Petty entered a guilty plea. 

In January 2022, reported CBS Los Angeles, Petty received his sentence: one year of home confinement and three years probation, in addition to paying a $55,000 fine.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Nicki Minaj is basking in motherhood since the birth of her son

Motherhood is something that Nicki Minaj has long desired. In a 2014 interview with Complex, in fact, she revealed that her greatest fear was she'd find herself so busy with her career that she'd miss out on getting married and start a family. "If I'm done with my fifth album and I don't have a child by then, no matter how much money I have, I would be disappointed, as a woman, because I feel like I was put here to be a mother," she shared.

Minaj got her wish in 2020, when People reported that she and husband Kenneth Petty had welcomed their first child, a son, whom she took to calling "Papa Bear" on social media. "#PapaBear thank you so very much for choosing me to be your mama," she wrote in a gratitude-filled Instagram post welcoming 2021. "Becoming a mom is by far the most fulfilling job I've ever taken on," she added. That September, she and Petty celebrated their son's first birthday, sharing some photos from the party, which boasted a "Kung Fu Panda" theme.

While Minaj has yet to officially unveil her son's real name, she did reveal the name he was almost given. "His name was going to be Ninja," Minaj told listeners of her fan radio, as reported by Entertainment Tonight. "I changed it at the last minute," she explained.