With razor-sharp piranha jaws and a wide-eyed bipolar little girl gone bad theatrical flair, rapper Nicki Minaj is the obligatory bun in present-day hip-hop’s machismo-pumped sausage fest. It’s unanimous: she’s probably the most exciting woman in the underground right now, with critics calling her a future iconoclast. There hasn’t been a female rapper since the Foxy Brown-tailored money/power/respect-era to command the male eye like this Africana Aphrodite. More so, there has yet to be a female that defied gravity, breaking hip-hop’s glass ceiling or Top 40 radio’s gender barrier since MC Lyte or even Eve. Where most female emcees have gone the route of crossover palatable pop persona or sheets-and-streets video vixen, Minaj has drawn comparisons to everyone in the business—a Bjork/Remy Ma lovechild, a Gwen Stefani/Chaka Khan blend, an amalgamation with Lil’ Kim spunk and undeniable Lady Gaga cool. But, in the end, its best said that she is a kind of spaced-out oddity that moonlights as a part-time high fashion sex symbol and a part-time off-beat wordsmith. With an out-of-this world machine gun salvo of kitsch pop references via robotic valley girl twang, Caged Heat swagger and a neo-cosmopolitan everyman style she’s coined “Harajuku Barbie,” she may just be on her way to being not only a household name, but a walking music megalith by which all other rappers will be judged.

Hailing from Jamaica, Queens, New York, Onika Maraj grew up in a nuclear family rattled with alcohol and drug-related issues, mainly by her father, who would steal and sell their furniture to support those habits while their mother supported them on a meager nurse’s salary. Starting the art of rapping at age 12, she attended the prestigious LaGuardia High School for acting, performing cipher-style on the streets with her friends. The hard work paid off. With warped and zany lyrics like Wanna play? Meet me at the fumble line / ‘Cause I’m a ninja—kowabunga time, her captivating mouth-watering rhyme scheme caught the ear of rap impresario Lil’ Wayne in 2006 after she was discovered by Dirty Money CEO Fendi on MySpace, releasing her first mixtape Playtime is Over, on his Brooklyn imprint. The rest, as they say, is history. After reversing Notorious B.I.G.’s “Warning” to great affect in Fendi’s The Come Up, Lil’ Wayne signed her after seeing it and she’d go on to feature in his “Can’t stop, Won’t stop” track on the all the rage “Da Drought 3” mixtape.

Then came her sexy, critically-acclaimed Beam Me Up Scotty 2007 mixtape and scolding-hot Barbie World, and the glitter and the confetti began to fall from the sky. Critics raved over her delivery and insane-in-the-membrane lyrical content, and she began her venture into “remix heaven,” working for the likes of R&B princesses Mya, Keri Hilson and Cassie, before moving on to fat cats Diddy, Ludacris and Usher. In recent months, she’s released a hit with Young Money’s “Bedrock,” took plastic pop boogie to another level in the Mariah Carey jam “Up Out My Face,” and took off her earrings in the Chase & Status-assisted demo “Saxxon” on Rihanna’s pitch-perfect patois Rated R project (which hit the web before it was ready for a wide audience). Even crooner Robin Thicke tapped her on the shoulder to make a cameo in his upbeat “Shakin’ it for Daddy.” After all, she is the cat’s meow.

She’s been crowned rap’s new queen. In fact, critics are raving, dubbing Minaj and Drake “the rebirth of rap royalty,” before either of them have released a full-length studio album. The lady-friendly 25-year-old rap star even posed for a photo in homage of Lil’ Kim’s 14th anniversary of her critically-acclaimed debut “Hard Core.” Coincidence, anyone? She’s got the moxie and makes no apologies for her decisions. But what’s a woman at the top of game without haters?

Unsigned Baltimore rapper Keys took a few blows to the young glitterati and she turned her away without batting even an eyelash after stating she refused to get into a melee with “foolish strawberry shortcake” people. Lil Wayne’s multiracial protégée (she is of African, Trinidadian and Indo-Asian descent) and hip-hop’s reigning chameleon even duked it out with MTV after talks of her “controversial” Amber Rose-assisted music video “Massive Attack” was almost banned for its artistic merits, which showcased drugs, alcohol and the two ladies clad in sensational bikinis. They drew a truce.
Working on an upcoming studio album, she’s out for blood and she’s out to take no prisoners—and we’re sure to see some new developments.

Written by Marcus Scott

Check out her debut video Massive Attack featuring Sean Garrett

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