Why does Nicki Minaj hate her stage name?
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Why does Nicki Minaj hate her stage name?

Nicki Minaj is a name that hip-hop will forever remember. As the face of female rap for well over a decade, the Queens rapper became a dominant force with unparalleled talent. When the ‘Chun-Li’ emcee first arrived, nobody had seen or heard anything like her. She was theatric, colourful and kooky and instilled a sense of fun into an excessively aggressive culture in dire need of positivity.

Despite her seemingly quick rise to fame, Minaj had a long and winding road to success that saw her relocate from New York to Atlanta just to have a stab at success in the cutthroat music industry.

Ever since the ‘Super Bass’ musician first burst onto the scene in 2007 as part of Lil Wayne’s iconic supergroup Young Money, she has been known as Nicki Minaj. However, in a 2012 interview with the UK newspaper The Guardian, the superstar admitted she has never liked her stage name.

Speaking on how she has always had a hardline approach to separating her career as Nicki Minaj from her private life as Onika Maraj, the lyricist unveiled, “I don’t [like my name]. My rule is whatever you were calling me four years ago is what you should be calling me now because I don’t like it when my family or close friends call me Nicki Minaj. To me, I’m not Nicki Minaj when I’m with them.”

The Young Money icon explained how anyone who knew her prior to her fame as Onika Maraj from Queens should always refer to her as Onika. Furthermore, she revealed that her theatric persona, colourful hairstyles and use of profanity are strictly reserved for her appearances as Nicki Minaj and detailed how, whenever she is with family, she always presents herself how she did before she became a celebrity.

Minaj asserted that her real surname grounds her and connects her to her Indo-Trinidadian roots and family. Recalling how her name changed when she entered the building of major labels, Minaj explained, “Somebody changed my name. One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj, and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.” she said. However, the rapper learned to embrace it not as a change in identity but as a character who would let her reach her ultimate goal. “I feel it’s like one big theatre piece. It’s a show.”

The individual responsible for Maraj’s name change was Big Fendi, the CEO of the Brooklyn-based production company Dirty Money. Fendi caught wind of the female icon via MySpace, but due to the Lil Kim effect and the necessity to sexualise Maraj, insisted she change her stage name from Maraj to Minaj. A Play on the word ménage, derived from ménage à trois. In 2020, after years of not speaking Nicki and Fendi spoke on his podcast.