A cousin of Nicki Minaj—no, not the infamous one whose friend’s testicles allegedly became swollen—has defended the Trinidad-born rapper following the maelstrom from her highly publicized Tweets and utterances last week, which raised concerns about vaccine disinformation.
Even though he initially denied that he was Minaj’s cousin, Michael Daniel, 39, of St. James, Port of Spain, told the Trinidad Express that Nicki should be celebrated like Reggae legend Bob Marley, who is widely regarded as the one who contributed the most to Jamaica and Reggae music’s rise to the attention of the world.
“St James residents feel great to know she is from our hometown. She put Trinidad and Tobago on the map. She did what Bob Marley did for Jamaica. Brian Lara and Ato Boldon have done well. But Nicki kicked down doors that they could not,” Daniel said.
“Today, everybody knows about our country. Trinidad and Tobago is in the international spotlight. We should rally around her.”
Since last Monday, the hunt has been on to find the infamous cousin of Nicki Minaj who, according to her, “Won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it and became impotent,” and “His testicles became swollen.”
Last Wednesday, Trinidad and Tobago’s Health Minister Terrence Dyalsingh said that Minaj’s “false” claims had wasted his department’s time. According to the BBC, Minaj was also criticized by England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who said she should be “ashamed,” while leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said the rapper should “be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis”.
However, amid the strong backlash and media attention in Trinidad and around the world, Daniel defended his cousin and said she should, instead, be treated as a local hero, much like Jamaica’s Bob Marley, who was given a state funeral when he died, in 1981, at the age of thirty-six.
“Why are we leaving our precious Nicki out in the rain? If she was an American, the whole of America would have supported her. I have to agree with veteran calypsonian Winston (Explainer) Henry, ‘Why are we treating our local heroes so?’,” Daniel told the Express.
On Friday, the intense media scrutiny and hunt for the other cousin led to Minaj leaking the personal information of two journalists, who contacted her relatives in Trinidad, according to Jezebel. Daniel spoke freely with the Express’ Michelle Loubon when she contacted him at his Bournes Road home, in St James, but admitted that he wasn’t sure the rapper would approve.
“I am not sure Nicki would even approve of me talking to Express, but I will go ahead,” he told the paper.
He went on to divulge details of their family tree. Apparently, Daniel’s late father, Gordon Daniel, was the brother of Minaj’s mother, Carol Maraj. He also said during her childhood Minaj lived at their family home briefly.
“We grew up together. She [Nicki] is younger than I am but we were close. We love her. We are proud of her. She visited us the last time she was here for Carnival in 2020. She came right down the track and checked us,” he said.
After confirming that he was not the cousin Minaj had referenced in her tweet, Daniel then gave his thoughts on whom she could have been talking about.
“Maybe it’s her other cousins. She has family in the ‘Cocoa’ (an upper area in Bournes Road). She has family in Trinidad. She is from Trinidad. Maybe it’s her father’s family. But it’s not us. Nobody in this house took the vaccine. Carol Maraj is my aunt,” Daniel continued.
Nicki Minaj, whose real name Onika Tanya Maraj, 39, gained public recognition after releasing the mixtapes Playtime Is Over (2007), Sucka Free (2008), and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009). Since then, Nicki would go to have numerous top spots on the Billboard charts, release several platinum and gold selling records and make history as the highest-charting solo female rapper since 2002, with over 100 million records sold worldwide.
Her numerous accolades include eight American Music Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards, twelve BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, a Brit Award, and a Guinness World Record. Billboard ranked her the top female rapper of the 2010s, as well as ranking her seventh among the top female artists of the decade. Time included Minaj on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.