Rapper Nicki Minaj sparked widespread derision over claims a cousin's friend had become impotent after receiving a Covid vaccine
Rapper Nicki Minaj sparked widespread derision over claims a cousin's friend had become impotent after receiving a Covid vaccine GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Jamie McCarthy


  • Nicki Minaj turned 40 years old Thursday
  • The rapper was a bookworm during her childhood days
  • Her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj

Nicki Minaj reached a milestone birthday this week as she turned 40.

She is one of the most successful female rappers in the music industry, having released numerous hits, including "Super Bass," "Anaconda" and "Super Freaky Girl," among many others. The globally acclaimed rapper has sold millions of records worldwide and received 10 Grammy Award nominations throughout her career.

To celebrate her 40th birthday this Thursday, here are eight facts about Minaj that may surprise new and some old fans of the rapper.

1. She hates her stage name

Before entering the music business, the rapper went by her real name, Onika Tanya Maraj, but she had to create a pseudonym when she was first signed to a label. Hence, the moniker Nicki Minaj was born.

But she revealed in an interview with The Guardian in 2012 that she hated her stage name.

"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 told the outlet.

2. She loves to read books

Minaj has been fond of books and reading since she was a child. The musician previously said on Twitter that she was working on writing two books, Essence reported. But she has yet to share updates on the projects.

3. She used to be a theater actress

Before launching her career as a rapper, Minaj attended a performing arts school in Manhattan, New York. After she graduated, she focused on becoming an actress and eventually landed a role in the off-Broadway play, "In Case You Forget," over 20 years ago.

4. She once offered thousands of dollars for the return of her stuffed animal

Minaj has a love for stuffed animals and even has a collection of them. In 2010, she offered a $50,000 reward for the return of her pink stuffed monkey named Oscar, which she lost during a flight from New York to Miami, following her guest appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

5. She was discovered by rapper Lil Wayne

The "Bang Bang" rapper started out as a backup singer for local aspiring rappers in New York City and uploaded videos of her work on her Myspace page.

Eventually, she caught the attention of Lil Wayne, whom she worked with on some of her mixtapes before she was signed to his record label Young Money Entertainment in 2009, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

6. She gave a customer the middle finger while working as a waitress

The mega musician is well-known in the industry for having an outspoken personality, and it seems she has been this way even before making a name for herself.

During an interview on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," Minaj revealed that she was fired as a waitress at a Red Lobster because she was rude to a customer. The rapper claimed that the customer did not leave any tip and stole her pen, so she chased her out.

"I banged on the car window, and I said, 'Give me my pen!" she recalled, before sharing that she gave the customer the middle finger. "My manager fired me on the spot."

7. She wrote her first rap at the age of 12

According to multiple outlets, the chart-topping artist wrote her first rap song when she was only 12. At the time, she was still pursuing a career in acting and was enrolled at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City.

8. Her parents used to be gospel singers

Minaj grew up in a music-loving household. Her father, Robert Maraj, who was a financial executive, and her mother Carol, who worked in payroll and accounting departments, were gospel singers at church.

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Nicki Minaj attends the 14th Annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards on Nov. 6, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images