Nicki Minaj, one of the most acclaimed and bestselling female rappers of all time, had a game plan for her life, and it involved having a husband and at least one baby, possibly two, by the time she released her fifth studio album.
Minaj married the husband, Kenneth “Zoo” Petty, in 2019, after first dating him as a teenager. The “Super Bass” singer also had her first baby in October 2020, and this summer, she tweeted that she’s working on her fifth album.
But Minaj, 38, might have to tear up her game plan now that Petty is facing up to 10 years in prison for his failure to register as a sex offender in California.
Petty, 43, pleaded guilty Thursday during a virtual hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which oversees both central and southern parts of the state, People reported.
Petty’s hearing, incidentally, came the same day that Minaj announced on Twitter that she was pulling out of a planned appearance at the Video Music Awards on Sunday, saying she would explain “another day.”
Petty’s latest legal troubles began when he was pulled over by the Beverly Hills Police Department in 2019, and police determined he was registered as a sex offender in New York, but not in California, where he now resides, as TMZ first reported.
“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 defending Petty on Instagram in December 2018
When Petty is sentenced in January, he faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a lifetime of supervised release, People said.
Petty’s sex offender status has long made him a controversial partner for Minaj, including among her fans, but she has defended him since she announced they were an item in December 2018. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, but moving to Queens at age 5, Minaj revealed to fans that she and Petty had known each other since they were “very young kids in the hood.”
Minaj tried to argue that his conviction for first-degree attempted rape was a long time ago — in 1995, Us Weekly reported. He was 15, his alleged victim, who accused him of rape, was 16, and that they were in a relationship.
Petty was sentenced to 18 to 54 months, spending a total of four years in prison, People said. Petty was designated a level-two registered offender in New York, which means he’s considered a “moderate risk of repeat offense,” People added.
Minaj defended Petty on Instagram in December 2018, Us Weekly reported. “He was 15, she was 16 … in a relationship. But go awf, Internet,” she wrote on Instagram on the same day she posted a risqué photo of her in bed with Petty. “Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”
The sexual assault conviction isn’t the only skeleton in Petty’s closet. He also was convicted of manslaughter in the April 2002 shooting death of a man in Queens County, New York, according to records obtained by The Blast. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but served seven.
This record, however, didn’t stop Minaj from thinking he would be good husband material and a good father for her future children. A source told Us Weekly in 2018 that the couple had “discussed” having children.
“Nicki is absolutely head over heels in love with Kenny,” the insider said. “She fell hard and fast. … She really believes that he has changed since his troublesome days, but some of her friends are still a bit wary.”
In January 2019, Minaj revealed during a candid Q&A session with her Twitter followers that she and Petty had sex three to four times a night “on average” because “6 is a bit much sis,” Us Weekly also reported.
Five years earlier, the singer laid out her game plan for life in an interview with Complex. She talked about putting off having children in order to build her career, but she said she was still determined to become a parent.
“(My biggest fear is) that I’ll become so consumed with work that I’ll forget to live my personal life to the fullest,” she said. “If I’m done with my fifth album and I don’t have a child by then, no matter how much money I have, I would be disappointed, as a woman, because I feel like I was put here to be a mother. I have definitely put off the wife thing because I don’t want people in my business.”
Minaj also said she would “definitely” get married before she had her baby. “I want to make sure I do it in that order,” she told Complex. “By the fifth album, I will have walked down the aisle and I will at least be on baby number one, possibly baby number two. And have $500 million.”
“I've known him since I was 17, and I feel a level of comfort with him that I hadn't felt before to just be myself and to share who I am."
- Minaj about her marriage to Petty in interview with Queen Radio in 2020
Minaj, who is currently worth an estimated $84 million, announced in October 2019 that she had married Petty. She said in an interview with Queen Radio in February 2020 that he had been “a really great force in my life.” She said: “I’ve known him since I was 17, and I feel a level of comfort with him that I hadn’t felt before to just be myself and to share who I am.”
Minaj announced she was pregnant in July 2020, and she and Petty became parents to a son in October 2020.
Petty’s past sexual assault conviction continued to haunt the couple. Last month, Petty’s alleged victim, Jennifer Hough, filed a lawsuit against him and Minaj, accusing the pair of attempting to intimidate her into recanting her rape accusation, People reported.
If Petty goes to prison, even for a portion of the 10 years, Minaj will be on her own again, and she may have to draw on the wisdom she told Elle magazine that she had attained by the summer of 2018, before Petty had apparently returned to her life.
At that time, Minaj was newly and happily single after admitting that she’s had serious boyfriends in her life since she was 15, including a two-year relationship with rapper Meek Mill.
“As soon as I realized that I could actually live and breathe, and eat and sleep, and walk and talk without having a boyfriend, something clicked in me,” Minaj said.
“Becoming single was one of the things that made me feel strong and powerful,” Minaj continued. “The fact that I am a young woman who doesn’t need a man for money. I don’t need a man for a job. I’ve never had to (expletive) for beats. I’ve never had to (expletive) for a record deal. I don’t have those pressures. I get up when I want, shop when I want.”