Onika Maraj (b. Dec. 8, 1984), known as Nicki Minaj, is a rapper from Southside Jamaica, Queens, New York. She grew up in a troubled home, with a father on drugs and a struggling single mother. Despite her hectic environment, Minaj went on to graduate from LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, where she studied singing and acting. Working as an administrative assistant, she dedicated all of her free time to pursuing a potential music career. Nicki Minaj started off singing background vocals, then hooks for local rappers.