Nicki Minaj is hip-hop’s best-selling female artist of all time, and regardless of whether you like her shenanigans, she has undoubtedly broken many records and opened several doors for females in the genre. Although, over the years, there have been questions surrounding her ethics and behaviour behind the scenes, for the most part, Minaj is still loved by the hip-hop community.
Born in Trinidad and raised by her grandmother on the Caribbean island until the age of six, in 1989, Minaj left her mother country and was flung into the cold and uncomfortable poverty of New York City public housing. Raised in South Jamaica, Queens, Minaj was exposed to all sorts of negative things growing up, but rap acted as her form of escapism.
Realising she was actually quite good at putting rhymes together, Minaj began rapping full-time in 2003 alongside her friends Loustar, Seven Up, and Safaree Samuels as part of the Hood$tars. But that was short-lived. After featuring on various mixtapes in New York, Minaj was asked by black entrepreneur Fendi if she wanted to appear on what was a popular underground hip hop DVD known as ‘The Come Up DVD’.
‘The Come Up DVD’ was how people found out about hot new hip-hop talent before YouTube existed. In the days of DVDs, there was such high demand for ‘The Come Up’ DVD, discs would get pirated and sold in high schools to kids desperate to see who was hot and who was not. Minaj appeared on multiple volumes of the DVD and gained huge swathes of fans from it between 2003 and 2006.
While continuing to feature on the DVD, Minaj simultaneously put out singles on the now-redundant social media platform MySpace. From ‘The Come Up’ DVD and MySpace alone, Minaj managed to pack out medium size venues. However, things changed for Minaj in 2007. In 2007, Minaj’s segment on the DVD appeared after Lil Wayne’s cameo. Noticing Minaj, Lil Wayne contacted Minaj’s management, and in 2007 she signed a record deal with Young Money.
On the 2007 ‘Real Talk TV’ DVD, Minaj had several appearances, one of which was a cover of Lil Kim’s 2007 single ‘Jumpoff’ produced by the legendary Timbaland. In addition to recording the track, Minaj shot a music video, which is still on the internet to this day. You can watch the footage in the video below. As of 2023, it is over 15 years old.