Getting fired from her waitress job and why she (briefly) quit twitter – the inside scoop on 26 of our cover star's finest moments
A IS FOR “ANACONDA”
Her current single reaches ass-tronomical new heights: her Minajesty appears as a French maid deep-throating a banana, with booties that defy gravity, and Drake getting a severe lapdance as Nicki chants: “I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches.” The video simultaneously put Miley Cyrus out of place (“Wrecking Ball” previously held the 24-hour record at 19.3 million) and in her place causing Cyrus to act out more than once.
B IS FOR BOOBS & BARBZ
“Itty Bitty Piggy” (off her Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape in 2009) - is Nicki on one, verse after verse. Towards the end she starts rattling off her monikers: “Like, like I'm Nicki Minaj, Nicki Lewinsky, Nicki the ninja, Nicki the boss, Nicki the Harajuku Barbie. Like I mean, I don't even know why you girls bother at this point.” After getting hate for the Barbie nickname, Nicki went beyond and made the word omnipresent, by nicknaming her fans Barbz.
C IS FOR CAREY, MARIAH
After guesting on Mariah’s “Up Out My Face” (and appearing in its Nick Cannon-directed video) in 2010, they reunited as judges on American Idol two years later. At one point, a video leaked from the Idol tapings where a bewildered Keith Urban is sandwiched in-between the two divas throwing flawless shade. "I told them I'm not fucking putting up with her fucking highness over there," Nicki yells, as Mariah can be heard saying, “Oh why - WHY - do I have a three-year-old sitting around me?” Carey recently likened the experience to being in “Hell” with “Satan” in an interview on NYC’s Hot 97.
D IS FOR DRAMA SCHOOL
After graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School (the arts academy from the movie Fame), in 2001 Nicki was cast in the Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget. In her video for “Moment 4 Life”, her actress skills come out in full flair: she plays the role of a British fairy godmother, as well as a saccharine version of herself.
E IS FOR EMINEM
Kanye West once proclaimed that Nicki was the second biggest rapper in the game, after Eminem. The two finally collab'd on the Swizz Beatz-produced “Roman’s Revenge” in 2010, seeing their alter egos go head to head, Slim Shady vs Roman Zolanski.
F IS FOR FORBES
Minaj is the first and only female rapper to be featured on Forbes's Hip Hop Cash Kings list. And the numbers have been blowing up exponentially – earning $6.5 million in 2011, $15.5 million in 2012 (number 8 on the list), $29 million in 2013 (hitting number 4). As she told Dazed in her recent interview: “I feel like when I reach my 500-million-dollar goal, then no other woman in rap will ever feel like they can’t do what these men have done.”
G IS FOR GIVE ME ALL YOUR LUVIN
Minaj, M.I.A. and Madonna teamed up as the ultimate M trifecta for “Give Me All Your Luvin'”, with a video that featured Nicki and M.I.A. dressed as cheerleaders chanting "L-U-V Madonna!" They also performed the single during the Super Bowl Halftime show in February 2012, which ended with M.I.A. notoriously flipping off the camera.
H IS FOR HOT 97
On June 3, 2012, the station’s DJ Peter Rosenburg said on air: "Now hold on, before I get to the real hip-hop shit of the day, because I see the real hip-hop heads sprinkled in here, I see 'em. I know there's some chicks here waiting to sing “Starships” later, I'm not talking to y'all right now, fuck that bullshit. I'm here to talk about real hip-hop shit."
After her song “Starships” was dissed, Nicki consequently cancelled her performance at the Hot 97 Summer Jam that day, after Lil Wayne told all YMCMB artists to pull from the bill, including DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes and Nicki. Almost a full year later, Nicki hashed it out with Rosenburg on air face to face, where she told him: “To me you don’t have enough of a resumé to make those comments.”
I IS FOR ICE AGE
In July 2012, Nicki voiced a Wooly Mammoth named Steffie in the animated mega series Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, joined by her label mate Drake (who voiced another mammoth named Ethan). The Vulture website took the time to meticulously write out all of their lines for a reason maybe we’ll never know.
J IS FOR JUSTIN BIEBER
After making Justin blush in all of his 17-year-old awkwardness at the BET Awards in 2011 (“Justin, do you drive? Can you handle curves?” she taunted), the pair teamed up on the pop monster “Beauty & The Beat” in 2012. Nicki even gave a shout-out to Selena Gomez: "Justin Bieber/You know I'm gonna hit 'em with the ether/Buns out, wiener/But I gotta keep an eye out for Selener."
K IS FOR KMART
Nicki debuted her collection with US giant K-Mart in October 2013, and it came with all the flash and over-the-topness you’d expect, bearing a plethora of tiny crop tops, wild patterns, animal prints, supertight bodycon dresses, velour track suits, jewellery, purses and headwear. Minaj claims the collection was inspired by Chanel, Versace and Hervé Léger.
L IS FOR “LIL FREAK” / LGBT COMMUNITY
On her track “Go Hard”, Nicki raps: “I only stop for pedestrians or a real, real bad lesbian.” And “Lil Freak,” her track with Usher, she raps about threesomes and starts her verse with: “Excuse me lil mama but you can say I'm on duty / I'm looking for a cutie / A real big ole ghetto booty / I really like your kitty kat and if you let me touch her / I'll know your not a bluffer, I'll take you to go see Usher.” She often throws comments about putting her "dick in your face" and on “Moment 4 Life” refers to herself as a king. Her sexual ambiguity coupled with her brashness, fabulousness and beyond-this-realm fashion helped her become a veritable icon in the gay community, with her gay male fans (whom she calls ‘Ken Barbz’) creating endless renditions of her songs. Which she’s not mad at – as she said in her Out Magazine interview, “If a gay guy impersonates you, you are a bad bitch. Period.’
M IS FOR “MONSTER”
“50k for a verse, no album out!” The guest verse that changed it all. Not just for Nicki, but for the entire rap world – Nicki obliterated everyone on the track, slaying Jay, ‘Ye and Rick Ross in one fell swoop.
N IS FOR NICKI LEWINSKI
One especially for President Carter (aka Weezy), Nicki’s Lewinsky suggests that Monica truly had all the power in her hands, being as close to the president as she was, but didn’t come correct. Minaj, however, used the opportunity as only Minaj could, securing a seat in the YMCMB oval office. Nicki Lewinski was eventually left behind when Minaj felt the lyrics were a bit much for her younger demographic.
O IS FOR OTHER WOMAN, THE
After filming in spring 2013, Minaj’s film debut landed in April 2014 with The Other Woman, alongside Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. The internet already has the GIFs on lock of Minaj's role as an assistant to Diaz’s character (a lawyer). As Phoebe Lovatt commented in our recent cover story, “the murderous opening of “Chi-Raq” (feat Lil Herb) – “Ain’t yelling cut when it’s shootin’ time” – is possibly the only time a line has referred to packing heat as well as a Cameron Diaz rom-com.”
P IS FOR PINK FRIDAY
In 2012, Nicki’s debut album Pink Friday tore through the Grammy’s, with nominations for Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance (for "Moment 4 Life") and Best Rap Album. Pink Friday – home to hits "Super Bass," "Fly", "Your Love", "Check It Out", "Right Thru Me", and "Moment 4 Life" – eventually certified platinum. But, as Minaj noted in our cover story, it was "Roman’s Revenge" that was "bar for bar... more of a massacre. It was witty, it was skilled, it was punchline after punchline after punchline! It featured Eminem. When I listen now, I can’t really believe it – that record took fucking balls.”
Q IS FOR QUEEN BEE
After Nicki’s immense success with Pink Friday, Lil Kim popped up out of the woodwork to try to reclaim her throne as “the Queen Bee,” stating that Nicki copped her style and Cash Money had used Kim to “steal my swag.” Rumors began flying that Nicki’s track "Roman’s Revenge" was a diss track directed straight at Kim. As retaliation, Kim’s mixtape – Black Friday – featured artwork that mimicked the Nicki’s cover: Lil Kim is holding a sword in a bloodied room, with a decapitated Nicki in the foreground and background. Nicki took to Twitter to express that she felt some type of way – see below.
Bwaahhhhahhahahahahahahahahhahahhhaaahhhhhaaahahahahahahahhhaha!!!!!!!!!! *lifeless* *leaves on stretcher* *cant go on*— Anaconda (@NICKIMINAJ) February 16, 2011
R IS FOR RED LOBSTER
At the age of 19, Minaj worked as a waitress at a Red Lobster in the Bronx. Serving cheddar biscuits up to the masses, she was eventually fired for being rude to customers. But yung Minaj managed to make over $500/week before getting cut, which helped her buy a brand new BMW. She explained to Billboard: “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.”
S IS FOR SAINT JAMES (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO) / SOUTHSIDE JAMAICA (QUEENS)
Born in Saint James, Trinidad, Nicki was raised by her grandmother while her parents started to establish themselves in America. At the age of five, she joined them in Southside Jamaica in Queens, NY. “I can always remember standing up to the baddest girls in my elementary school,” she said of her childhood. “Wherever I went, there was always a mean girl, and that girl would always hate me because I wouldn’t bow down."
T IS FOR TWITTER
Personally handling her own Twitter and interacting with her Barbz directly, Minaj is one of the most followed rappers in the world, with a steady 18 million followers. But in April 2012, she deleted her account for 8 days after one of her fans leaked her unreleased album, losing over a million followers in the process.
U IS FOR (THE COME) UP
After her first mixtape Playtime is Over (released on Dirty Money Records in 2007), Nicki was featured on the hip hopumentary series and mixtape, The Come Up. At one point in the DVD, before freestyling Nicki pulls a huge wad of cash out of her purse and says in her thickest Queens accent, "Y’all bitches better sharpen your motherfucking number 2 pencil, because I stay on point.” Minaj had been signed with a crew in Brooklyn called Full Force, rapping in a quartet called The Hoodstars, but Minaj left the group, totally unimpressed by their lack of success.
V IS FOR VMAS
Her latest VMA performance had it all: feral jungle women daggering her, Nicki covered in painted-on snake scales, her most talked-about asset bringing its A-game, an endless assortment of GIF worthy moments... even a wardrobe malfunction, when joined onstage by Ariana Grande and Jessie J for their pop smash "Bang Bang" (Nicki’s dress busted open). The one thing that was missing? A real anaconda, which was originally a key part of the performance. The idea abruptly slithered out of the show after her contortionist dancer was attacked twice by two separate trained snakes.
W IS FOR WINTOUR, ANNA
On 2010‘s "Muny" Nicki spits: “Hey, yo, Anna, hey yo Anna Wintour, I'ma need that cover baby girl, it's Pink Friday, ya dig.” Flash forward a year later, to September 2011 during New York Fashion Week, and Minaj had been personally invited to be seated with Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week in September 2011. The unlikely pair sat front row together to see Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. The next day, Wintour sent Nicki an autographed photo of the two of them at Oscar’s show, with Nicki (clad in a bizarre dress covered in woolen balls and a massive braided blonde updo) sitting next to the Wintour bob and shades. Wintour wrote to her: “We match!”
X IS FOR (MY)X FUSIONS MOSCATO
The fruity moscato shows face in a handful of Minaj videos (including "High School", "Up In Flames" and "Anaconda"), just as Nicki cameos in its advertisements around the world. Not only the face of MYX, she’s also a co-owner. In her My Time Now MTV documentary, Nicki sums up her need to evolve as a businesswoman: “You know, why isn't there a female rapper turned mogul? I mean, mogul. Having an empire that lives on beyond your rap career? And so I don't know why women haven't done it, I just know I wanna be the first woman to do it, and I will be.”
Y IS FOR YOUNG MONEY
After Lil Wayne spotted her on The Come Up DVD, Minaj signed a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment in August 2009. When labelmate Drake released Nothing Was The Same with zero YMCMB features, Nicki didn’t keep quiet: “I'm Young Money 'til the death of me. Drake can do what Drake do but Nicki Minaj is a whole different person. I think your team is your team. Who gives a fuck about trying to be different? I'm always going to want my team to be a part of my project, no matter what, in some way."
Z IS FOR ZOLANSKI , ROMAN
Perhaps Minaj’s most recognized alter ego, Roman Zolanski is Nicki’s self-proclaimed "twin brother," an angry gay man that was born inside her, out of rage. For a while Minaj claimed she’d officially changed her name and would only respond to Roman Zolanski, but on Valentine’s Day in 2014, she announced Roman had died. Roman lived quite the life in his few years however, appearing on her collabo track with Trey Songz "Bottoms Up", "Monster", even the Grammy's – revisit that below.