There's no doubt that Nicki Minaj is already one of the most successful rappers in the game, but who knew that musical talent actually runs in the family? Nicki's mom, Carol Maraj, is getting ready to roll out her debut project this year, led by the recent single "God's Been Good."
Don't expect any rapping from Maraj though. Her genre is gospel and she's been warming up those vocal chords in church for years. "I've been writing my own music since 2004, but [more recently] I started to work on me and record some of my songs," she told MTV News, explaining that she was inspired after hitting the studio to record backup vocals for a friend.
"That was my first time in the studio and I saw her doing her thing and thought, 'Let me try this.' I had my songs written down, and in my head, but that's what gave me the motivation to record. I was very shy when I got to the studio at first, but it got better."
It's obvious that Ms. Maraj is very shy and soft spoken, but her passion comes across in the music and she's already been performing her tracks at local concerts in New York. Upcoming releases from the Trinidad native will include more reggae and calypso influences, and you can always expect the music to be uplifting.
"'I'm Leaving My Pain' is my next single," she revealed. "It's [dedicated to] battered and abused women. It's to encourage them to not embrace pain, and not chase it, but to leave it behind and head towards love. It's a lovely song and I can't wait to wait to release it."
The mother of three is the founder of the Carol Maraj Foundation, which aims to help abused women get back on their feet, and it's clear that she pulls inspiration from her work there.
"My goal is to enhance their lives as much as possible, to bring them to a place where they do see the light at the end of the tunnel – to help educate them and give them stability in their lives, so that they won't return to their abusers," she explained. "It's spiritual and social enlightenment."
Ms. Maraj is currently working on a remix to "God's Been Good," a music video to accompany the song, and she plans to release a full EP in September via Fame Star Records, which she co-founded.
While it's still early in her professional music career, she hopes that she will eventually land features from Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson on her tracks, but Nicki's moral support is all she needs—no collaborations necessary.
"My passion is gospel music and Nicki has her own passion but we respect each other, and whatever direction [we go in]," she said of her daughter. "When I did my first two songs I was on tour with Nicki and I played it for her, and she was really bopping to it. She liked my first couple of reggae songs—she was the first person in the family that I played it for."