New York - Rap queen Nicki Minaj on Thursday shocked fans by announcing her retirement from music, saying she was going to focus on family.
The provocative 36-year-old known for hits like Super Bass is engaged to music executive Kenneth Petty, and she recently said a wedding is in the cards in the coming months.
"I've decided to retire & have my family," tweeted the wildly successful rapper raised in the New York borough of Queens.
"I know you guys are happy now," she continued. "To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, X in the box - cuz ain't nobody checkin me.
"Love you for LIFE."
The surprising news fueled pregnancy rumors that had already been swirling since June after she appeared on a late-night television show and opted against drinking.
She went Instagram-official with her partner Petty in December 2018, after rebooting the relationship decades after they were involved as teenagers.
The rekindled romance raised eyebrows considering Petty's criminal past: he is a registered sex offender in New York and was convicted in 1995 of attempted rape.
Minaj dismissed criticism of her new relationship, saying "He was 15, she was 16 ... in a relationship. But go awf Internet. Y'all can't run my life. Y'all can't even run y'all own life. Thank you boo."
Minaj's profanity-laced lyrics, skin-baring music videos and unique, animated flow first catapulted her to fame in 2010.
Known for her bold sartorial style that includes neon costumes and wigs, Minaj - whose hits include Starships, Bang Bang and Anaconda - is considered one of rap's most influential female artists.
The Grammy-nominated artist born in Trinidad and Tobago cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major inspirations, and has crafted a lightning-speed sound distinctive for her use of alter egos and accents, especially British cockney.
She's "a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase," wrote a New York Times critic in 2018. "She's a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look."
"And she's a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones."
Her brash personality and penchant for controversy also made Minaj a tabloid regular, especially for a feud at a Fashion Week 2018 after party that saw rap rival Cardi B throw a shoe and allegedly attempt to fight Minaj.
Cardi B later said Minaj had dissed her aptitude as a mother.
The rap queen's retirement announcement was a particularly surprising turn of events as Minaj has been quite active in music this summer
Last month, she appeared in rising star Megan Thee Stallion's song Hot Girl Summer.
In June 2019, she released a single entitled "Megatron" and said she had a new studio album in the works, which would be her fifth.
But Minaj is no stranger to spectacle, and some fans wondered on social media whether her retirement announcement was but a marketing strategy ahead of an album drop.
"Nicki minaj is deadass lying watch her drop a whole new album featuring Rihanna," tweeted one user.
Compiled by Alex Isaacs.