Watch rare footage of Nicki Minaj freestyling before fame
(Credit: Alamy/VH1)

Old School Archives

Watch rare footage of Nicki Minaj freestyling before fame

Queens emcee Nicki Minaj has been a formidable force in hip-hop for a lot longer than many fans think. Before Minaj signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money, the Pink Friday musician rapped alongside her friends Lou$tar, Seven Up, and Safaree Samuels as part of the Hood$tars. 

Recently, Safaree shared a reel to Instagram to show fans just how far back he and Nicki Minaj go with a throwback clip showing the ‘Chun-Li’ lyricist spitting a verse back in her days as a group member. The footage caption read, “Safaree got bars! We all gotta start somewhere.”

The Hood$tars members were teenage friends when they decided to form the trio. Safaree and Lou$tar are both from Brooklyn, while Minaj is from the South Jamaica neighbourhood of Queens. Following the collective’s dissipation, Samuels became Minaj’s hypeman and was by her side as she rose up hip-hop’s ranks.

Although Samuels and Minaj were initially friends, the two ended up in an official relationship, and between 2007 and 2014, Safaree was by Nicki’s side permanently and was part of her brand. During their nearly 15-year relationship, Samuels helped Minaj work on several albums, including Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, and The Pinkprint.

Although Samuels was always loyal to Minaj, in 2014, TMZ reported that “Safaree was getting sick of being in the background and had become increasingly hostile … an emotion [Nicki Minaj] reciprocated.”

Ever since their breakup, they have had several public spats on Twitter/X and have spoken about each other numerous times. However, Samuels still takes time to upload throwback photos and videos of his time with the ‘Starships’ rapper.

Last year, in an apparent celebration of Nicki Minaj’s 40th birthday, Samuels commented on a picture of him in the studio with Lou$tar and Minaj, writing, “A vital part of history. I wouldn’t change anything about my past!! I’m like Kanye I love everybody.”

Recently, Samuels took to Instagram to share the music video of the 2004 Park Slope track ‘La Dee Da Dee’, which featured every member of Hoodstar$, including Minaj. The track later appeared on a compilation CD. You can watch the clip below.