Nicki Minaj – Trini To The Bone


It is a common tendency to speak and write about stars and celebrities in a very narrow manner. Some people stress the negative aspects of their lives whether it may be drinking, promiscuity, crime or whatever else. Others focus on the glitz and glamour. In fact, many stars succumb to the hype and gets lost in the sea of glitz and glamour.

Invariably, it cannot always be considered their fault. The life of a celebrity is unquestionably challenging, drastically different from that of ordinary people. Their lives are constantly scrutinized, as they are constantly in the limelight. Furthermore, with the new lifestyle that celebrities lead, one of the common consequences of that is that these stars forget much about who they truly are. In fact, many forget some of the most fundamental aspects of their lives. Many forget their roots.

In some ways, it is unfair to make such a sharp judgement, simply because one does not stress their beginnings does not mean that they forget. Regardless, public sentiment is important and it is formed from perception. If the public perceived that you have forgotten their roots, as far as anyone is concerned, you have.

This has plagued a number of Caribbean-born celebrities. Nicki Minaj is one such. If you are at awe that the superstar is form the Caribbean, then yes, in reiteration, Nicki is indeed from the Caribbean. There are a number of reasons why many people do not know this. Obviously, at present, she is American. Furthermore, biographies, documentaries etc often mislead people to believing that she is originally form America.  Moreover, she seldom stresses her Trinidadian, yes Trinidadian roots.

Minaj (birth name Onika Tanya Maraj) was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago in 1984 to parents of Indian and African descent. She lived in Trinidad with her grandmother until age 5 when she moved to Queens, New York when she was five. 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.

She worked as an administrative assistant for a while and dedicated all of her free time to pursuing a potential music career. She started off singing, from background vocals, to hooks for local rappers. According to her, she wanted to “stand out” more form the crowd of average dime-a-dozen young aspiring singers. To this end, she began writing rap and joined a group as the only female.

Her talent was first spotted by Young Money CEO Fendi on MySpace and later was recruited and signed for The Carter Edition of Young Money's "The Come Up" DVD series. Having appeared on The Carter Edition of the DVD series, Minaj was noticed by rapper Lil’ Wayne who immediately contacted Fendi to negotiate a deal with Nicki. Lil’ Wayne was convinced by her unusual style of rapping and her ability to full write her own material. He knew she was perfect to be the face of his Young Money label. The two collaborated on mixtape styled remakes of tracks such as “Sunshine”, “Big Spender” and more recently a song entitled “Higher than a Kite” which uses T.I.’s “My Swag” beat. In April of 2007, she released her first mixtape entitled “Playtime is Over” and subsequent titles such as “can’t Stop”.  Nearly a year later, Minaj released her second mixed cd titled “Sucka Free”.

Originally using her real last name Maraj, Nicki started calling herself Minaj because she started “eating chicks”, with her vicious rap skills. This represented a great change in her life. Not was now a superstar and her life had changed in drastic ways. In that change it seems, she has failed top sufficiently recognise her Trinidadian roots.

What about putting on local shows? What about collaborating with local artistes? Any of these steps would be a start towards remaining true to her roots. You can only imagine the immense impact that such a superstar can have on youth, especially those who aspire to be musical stars as well. You are not simply from Southside Jamaica, Queens, New York; you are from St. James, Trinidad and Tobago. It does not matter that you migrated early in life, you are still West Indian and you need to embrace that fact.  Navito (The Caribbean Current)



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