Nickie Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago in 1984, to parents of Indian and African origins, and lived in Trinidad till age 5 with her grandmother before moving to Queens, New York. According to Minaj, her father was addicted to alcohol, drugs, and once even tried to kill her mother by setting their house on fire.
Minaj had her schooling at Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210 and graduated from LaGuardia High School, after which she participated in the drama program at LaGuardia, a school specializing in music and the visual and performing arts.
Earlier, Nickie Minaj has worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in the Bronx, before she ventured out for a career in music and entertainment, as a singer and songwriter. According to her the artists who have influenced her musical style include Lil Wayne, Lil' Kim and Lauryn Hill.