Before Nicki Minaj was Nicki Minaj (and Kurt was Kurt)
Before she was Nicki Minaj, the international superstar (real name: Onika Tanya Maraj) with her wigs and outlandish colorful outfits that give Lady Gaga a run for title of Best Weirdly Dressed, she was Nicki Minaj, a talented aspiring hip-hop artist from the Queens. And the above video of her from that pre-red carpet fame era is currently being passed around the Internets in the past couple days with some viewers longing for this rawer, more pedestrian side of Nicki Minaj. Hey Sasha Frere-Jones: feel free to use this as a flint for your next essay about constructions of identity and its conflict with notions of authenticity as it pertains to hip-hop. Or something. Incidentally, if you slow down Nicki Minaj’s voice she sounds a lot like Jay-Z. Conversely, if you speed up Jay-Z he sounds like Nicki Minaj. This is a mathematical fact.
Relatedly, for more of “celebrities-before-they-were-celebrities” check out this gallery of their yearbook photos (here for Leno, Letterman & Conan before they ruled TV nightlife) and here are some indie-celebrities-before-they-were-indie-celebrities. And in a more poignant note, February 20th, would have been Kurt Cobain’s 45th birthday. Despite the public’s well-known familiarity with his struggles which eventually culminated with his suicide, Flavorwire has this collection of photos of Kurt during his sunnier moments. My favorite picture is of Kurt playing with a cat, which serves as a reminder that despite everything he was no different than you, me, and the rest of the Internet who are all bonded by the mutual shared love of all things cats.