Nicki Minaj turns 30 years old today. The rapper was born in Trinidad and Tobago but grew up in Queens, New York.

After attending La Guardia High School for the Arts, Minaj took jobs as a backup singer for New York City rappers. She decided to write and release her own material through her MySpace page, which Dirty Money CEO Fendi came across. He signed Minaj to his label and introduced her to Lil Wayne, who collaborated with her on a series of mix tapes.

In 2009, Minaj signed with Young Money Entertainment and appeared as more of a feature artist on songs with artists such as Weezy, Yo Gotti, Robin Thicke and Mariah Carey. The Harajuku Barbie released her debut album Pink Friday in 2010. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, which is this marked the second-highest sales week for a female hip hop recording artist, behind Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998.

In September 2012, Minaj announced she would be joining the judging panel for the upcoming season of American Idol, which will premiere in January. -- Anastasia Williams