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|Birth name||Onika Tanya Maraj|
|Born|| December 8, 1982 |
Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
|Origin||Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States|
|Birth name||Onika Tanya Maraj|
|Born|| December 8, 1982 |
Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
|Origin||Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States|
Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj (//), is an American rapper, singer and songwriter. Born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Minaj earned public attention after releasing three mixtapes between 2007–2009. She signed a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment in 2009.
Minaj's debut studio album, Pink Friday (2010), peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spawned the top-three single "Super Bass". During that time, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven singles simultaneously charting on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012), also topped the chart and its lead single, "Starships", peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. Minaj's third studio album, The Pinkprint (2014), was preceded by its second single, "Anaconda", which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and is her highest-charting single in the United States to date. Minaj made her film debut in the 2012 animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift, and also starred in the 2014 film The Other Woman. In 2013, she was a main judge on the twelfth season of American Idol.
Minaj was the first female artist included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List, with The New York Times saying that some consider her "the most influential female rapper of all time". Her rapping is distinctive for its fast flow and the use of alter egos and accents, primarily British cockney. Minaj's colorful costumes, wigs and clothing have given her recognition as a fashion icon. In April 2013, Minaj became the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with over 44 appearances. Minaj has endorsed Adidas, MAC Cosmetics and Pepsi. She has won four American Music Awards, eight BET Awards, two MTV Music Awards, two MTV Europe Music Award, five Billboard Music Awards and Billboard 's 2011 Rising Star award.
Onika Tanya Maraj was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 1982. Minaj has three siblings. Her parents are Robert Maraj, a financial executive and part-time gospel singer of half Indo-Trinidadian and half Afro-Trinidadian ancestry, and Carol Maraj, who is of Afro-Trinidian heritage. Her mother held a variety of jobs, including accounting clerk, foreign-exchange teller and gospel singer. Minaj's father, who worked for American Express, was addicted to alcohol and other drugs and had a violent temper; he attempted to kill her mother by setting their house on fire. As a small child, Minaj lived with her grandmother in Saint James and was occasionally visited by her mother, with whom she moved to Queens, New York, at age five. Minaj said that her upbringing, which lacked discipline, made her "seek out and practice self-discipline".
She attended PS 45 (the Clarence Witherspoon School) and Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, where she played the clarinet, for her elementary education. Minaj successfully auditioned for admission to LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, which focuses on visual and performing arts, where she studied acting. Minaj described the cause of her distraction from academics in high school as "acting and boys". After graduation, Minaj wanted to become an actress; she was cast in the Off-Broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001. When her acting career failed to take off, at age 19 she worked as a waitress at Red Lobster in the Bronx but was fired for discourtesy to customers; she said she was fired from "at least fifteen jobs" for similar reasons. She also worked as an administrative assistant, in customer service and as an office manager for a Wall Street business.
Minaj briefly signed with Brooklyn group Full Force, in which she rapped in a quartet called "The Hoodstars" composed of Lou$tar (son of "Bowlegged Lou"), Scaff Beezy and 7even Up. In 2004 the group recorded the entrance song for WWE Diva Victoria, "Don't Mess With", which was featured on the compilation album ThemeAddict: WWE The Music, Vol.6. Minaj left Full Force, dissatisfied with their lack of success, uploaded songs on her Myspace profile and sent several of her songs to people in the music industry; at the time, she was managed by Debra Antney. Fendi, CEO of Brooklyn label Dirty Money Entertainment (who also discovered rapper Gravy), signed Minaj to his label. Originally adopting the stage name "Nicki Maraj", she changed it to Nicki Minaj: "My real name is Maraj. Fendi flipped it when he met me because I had such a nasty flow! I eat bitches!" On Fendi's label Minaj appeared on the street DVD, The Come Up Volume 11, featuring underground rappers from New York.
Minaj released her first mixtape, Playtime is Over, on Dirty Money Records on July 5, 2007 and her second, Sucka Free, on April 12, 2008. That year, she was named Female Artist of the Year at the 2008 Underground Music Awards. In 2009 Minaj was involved in a conflict with ego trip's Miss Rap Supreme winner Rece Steele, who was annoyed when Minaj interrupted her interview and put a sign behind Steele's head; Minaj hung up on interviewers from Spate magazine when they asked about the incident. She released her third mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, on April 18, 2009 and it received favorable coverage on BET and MTV. One of its tracks, "I Get Crazy", reached number 20 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart and number 37 on the magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
After Minaj was discovered by fellow rapper Lil Wayne, in August 2009 it was reported that she signed a recording contract with his Young Money Entertainment. That November, she appeared with Gucci Mane and Trina on the remix of "5 Star Bitch" by Yo Gotti. Minaj also appeared on "BedRock" and "Roger That" on the compilation album, We Are Young Money (2009). The singles peaked at numbers 2 and 56, respectively, on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100; their parent album reached number nine on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Minaj was featured on Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face", which reached number 100 on the Billboard Hot 100. At Jay-Z's suggestion, that February Robin Thicke featured Minaj on "Shakin' It 4 Daddy".
Minaj released the intended lead single from her upcoming debut album, "Massive Attack" on March 29, 2010. Plans for the single were scrapped after an underwhelming commercial performance. As a result, "Your Love" was released as the album's lead single on June 1, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Rap Songs chart. In August Minaj announced that the album would be entitled Pink Friday, a play on "Black Friday". The following month she released "Check It Out" and "Right Thru Me" as follow-up singles. In October, Minaj became the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously and the first woman to appear on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List.
Pink Friday was released on November 19, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 375,000 copies. "Moment 4 Life" was released as the fourth single shortly after. The album was certified platinum in December, and eventually reached number one in the United States in February 2011. Minaj performed "Right Thru Me" and "Moment 4 Life" as the musical guest on the January 29 episode of Saturday Night Live. "Super Bass", the album's fifth single, was released in April 2011. The song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified octuple-platinum in the U.S. Minaj credited the song's initial exposure to its mention by Taylor Swift. Minaj was one of the opening acts on Britney Spears' June 16–August 13 Femme Fatale Tour. She and Kesha appeared on the remix of Spears' "Till the World Ends", which peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. On August 7, 2011, Nicki experienced a "nip slip" during a live performance on Good Morning America. Minaj was criticized for wearing the low-cut shirt during her performance which led to the brief exposure of her breast on a live telecast. ABC apologized for incident. Minaj, while interviewed on ABC's Nightline show, apologized for the incident and denied that she intentionally sought to expose herself on live television as a publicity stunt. The incident soaked protest from the Parents Television Council. President of the PTC president Tim Winter stated, "the Parents Television Council has something to say about Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction this morning. For the umpteenth time in recent memory a morning news show has included inappropriate content for children and families." Winter called out Good Morning America for not using the five-second delay to prevent the broadcast of the exposure.
Since her breakout with Pink Friday, Minaj has been involved in a feud with rapper Lil' Kim, who accused Minaj of copying her style. Although Minaj's "Roman's Revenge" was thought to be directed at Kim, she said the song was "everyone who has been in interviews talking" because "no one is worth having their name mentioned out of my mouth and they never will get that." Kim escalated the feud with her mixtape, Black Friday (2011), whose title and artwork mimic Pink Friday; a fragment from Minaj's diss track, "Tragedy", previewed that April. Their conflict sparked a feud between Minaj and rapper Foxy Brown, who said Minaj misrepresented their conversation about Kim. Brown released the diss tracks "Hold Yuh" and "Massacre" (directed at Kim and Minaj) in November 2010 and January 2011, respectively, but Brown and Minaj settled their dispute in June 2012.
Minaj released her second studio album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in April 2012. The album was preceded by the promotional singles "Roman in Moscow" and "Stupid Hoe". Critics suggested that the latter song was directed at Lil' Kim, who said: "If you have to make a song called 'Stupid Hoe,' you must be a stupid hoe." Minaj and rapper M.I.A. joined Madonna to perform their single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'", on the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show on February 6, 2012. She was the first solo female rapper to perform at the Grammy Awards, premiering "Roman Holiday" during the 2012 ceremony on February 12. Her exorcism-themed performance was controversial, with the American Catholic League criticizing Minaj for bringing a fake "Pope" to escort her on the red carpet. The "exorcism" scene that was performed during her appearance was criticized as well. According to the Catholic League president Bill Donohue "Perhaps the most vulgar part was the sexual statement that showed a scantily clad female dancer stretching backwards while an altar boy knelt between her legs in prayer. Finally, 'Come All Ye Faithful' was sung while a man posing as a bishop walked on stage; Minaj was shown levitating."
"Starships" was released in February 2012 as the lead single from Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The song reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the fifth best-selling single of 2012. Minaj was sued by Chicago artist Clive Tanaka in September 2013 for its alleged copyright infringement. Follow-up singles "Beez in the Trap" and "Right by My Side" were released shortly after. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was released on April 2, two months later than planned. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 253,000 copies, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 2012. However, its mix of hip-hop songs and mainstream pop material received mixed reviews from music critics. "Pound the Alarm" and "Va Va Voom" were released as the final singles from the album. Minaj began her headlining Pink Friday Tour on May 16, 2012, which was followed by the Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour beginning October 14. Although she was scheduled to headline the June 3 Hot 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, at the request of Lil Wayne she canceled her appearance the day of the show after Peter Rosenberg of the station called "Starships" not "real hip-hop". The following month, Minaj voiced Steffie in the animated film Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012). She won awards for Best Female Video (for "Starships") at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards and Best Hip-Hop at the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards. An expanded version of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, subtitled The Re-Up, was released on November 19. That month, Minaj was the subject of a three-part E! documentary titled Nicki Minaj: My Truth. She announced plans for her own record label after signing Parker Ighile, Brinx, Keisha and Blackout Movement.
In September Minaj joined the judges' panel for the twelfth season of American Idol with fellow new judges Mariah Carey and Keith Urban and the returning Randy Jackson. That October a leaked video circulated, with Minaj and Carey in a heated argument during auditions in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carey accused Minaj of saying, "If I had a gun, I would shoot that bitch", but Minaj denied the allegation. Carey said that Minaj created an "unsafe work environment", increasing her security as a result. Tensions escalated after Carey said that Minaj did not have a number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 during a live broadcast in May 2013, to which Minaj responded in a series of "extremely harsh" tweets directed at the singer. Minaj and Carey left the series that month, at the end of the season. That year Minaj was the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with 44 entries. Her seven nominations led those for rap musicians at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, and she was the first rapper to win the BET Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award four consecutive times.
Filmed in spring 2013, Minaj's first live-action theatrical film The Other Woman premiered on April 25, 2014. She played Lydia, assistant to Carly (played by Cameron Diaz). During its early production, Minaj described her then-forthcoming third album, The Pinkprint as "a continuation of The Re-Up with a lot more" and said it would focus on her "hip-hop roots". During an MTV interview, she said that her third album would be "next level" and have "so much to talk about": "I'm really excited and the people that have been working with me now, have been people that I haven't worked with before so it's like they're bringing a new sound to the album that I've never experimented with." On February 12 a video for "Lookin Ass", directed by Nabil, was released. The song is part of Young Money's compilation album, Young Money: Rise of an Empire, and is its third single.
"Pills n Potions" was released as the lead single from The Pinkprint on May 21, 2014. On June 29, Minaj became the only artist to win the BET Award for Best Hip-Hop Artists for five consecutive years, while also tying Missy Elliott for the most wins with five. "Anaconda", the second single from The Pinkprint, was released on August 4 and its music video premiered on August 19. The video set a 24-hour Vevo record, receiving 19.6 million views on its first day of release and breaking the 19.3-million 24-hour record held by Miley Cyrus for her 2013 single "Wrecking Ball". "Anaconda" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and is her highest-charting single in the U.S. to date.
Minaj released a lyric music video for her song "Only" in November 2014, premiering close to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with visualizations inspired by the Nazi Regime and the work of Leni Riefenstahl. There was immediate backlash from fans, calling the video anti-semitic and insensitive. The Anti Defamation League stated that it was "troubling that no one among Minaj's group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release." The ADL called the "Only" video "insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler's Nazi juggernaut."
Minaj's figure has been noted by the media. She said that although she originally felt obligated to mimic the provocative behavior of the "female rappers of [her] day", she intended to subdue her sexuality because she "[wants] people—especially young girls—to know that in life, nothing is going to be based on sex appeal. You've got to have something else to go with that." The rapper has made autographing "boobs" part of her movement to empower women. In a Guardian interview, Minaj said she competes with male and female rappers: "That's why I say stuff like, 'Dick in your face', because I don't even wanna refer to female genitalia any more ... I just feel I have bigger balls than the boys". In "Moment 4 Life", she refers to herself as a "king" rather than a queen.
Minaj has been called the "black Lady Gaga" because of her costumes and wigs but has rejected the comparison, citing Alexander McQueen, Gianni Versace and Christian Louboutin as her favorite designers. The Huffington Post described her style as "risk-taking" and "far-out", with "bold sartorial choices"; Yahoo! called her dress "colorful" and "crazy", and "the fashion and music world would certainly be very quiet without Ms Minaj". Minaj has been invited to perform at fashion events; Donatella Versace invited her to perform with Prince for the introduction of a Versace collection for H&M, and she performed "Super Bass" at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. She was invited to sit with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour during New York Fashion Week to see designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera.
Billboard listed Minaj the fourth-most-active musician on social media on its March 2011 Social 50 chart. On Twitter, she is the world's most-followed rapper. There, in public appearances and interviews Minaj calls her fans "Barbs" collectively and her male heterosexual and LGBT followers "boys" and "Ken Barbs" respectively (alluding to her Barbie persona). She deleted her Twitter account for eight days in April 2012 after a dispute with fans who leaked snippets from her then-unreleased album. Minaj lost about nine million of her 11 million followers at the time. In 2013 Minaj introduced a more "natural" look, including less-colorful makeup and wigs, during later episodes of American Idol to be taken more seriously.
Minaj is known for her animated rapping style, her flow particular. She often combines metaphors, punch lines and word play into her work, which has been compared to her mentor Lil Wayne. The New York Times called Minaj "a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase. 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." Although many critics describe her technique as bubblegum rap, Minaj said: "What people don't know is that before I was doing that craziness I was doing me, I was just doing regular sounding rap that anyone could hear and identify with. But once I started doing all that weird shit—I'm not mad at it because it got everyone's attention." Noted as a rap artist, she lends herself to electronic music genres (especially electropop). Pink Friday marked her exploration of the genres, spawning electro hits including "Super Bass". Also combining rap with synthesizer music, Minaj's second album had a number of electropop songs: "HOV Lane", "Whip It", "Automatic", "Come On A Cone", "Young Forever", and "Fire Burns", and the Billboard hits "Roman Holiday" and "Beez in the Trap". She collaborated with other artists, producing more electronic hits: "The Boys" with "Me & U" singer Cassie and "Beauty and a Beat" with Justin Bieber.
Her verse in Kanye West's "Monster" was appreciated by critics, who said she had the best verse in the song. Her alter egos are incorporated with her lyrics in British accents (Roman Zolanski) or soft-spokenness (Harajuku Barbie). Ice-T said about Minaj's rapping style, "[Minaj] does her thing. She has her own way of doing it. She has an ill [sic] vocal delivery. She kind of reminds me of a female Busta Rhymes, like how she throws her voice in different directions."
With her parents frequently fighting during her childhood, Minaj lived through characters she created as a means of escape. She recalled that "fantasy was my reality" and her first identity was Cookie, who became Harajuku Barbie and (later) Nicki Minaj. In November 2010, Minaj assumed the alter ego Nicki Teresa, wearing a colorful headdress and calling herself "healer to her fans" during a visit to the Garden of Dreams Foundation at Fuse Studios in New York. She introduced another alter ego, Rosa (pronounced with an exaggerated R), to commemorate her December 2010 appearance on Lopez Tonight.
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For Pink Friday, Minaj created another alter ego: Roman Zolanski, "a demon inside her", Minaj's "twin brother" whose character she assumes when she is angry. Roman has been compared to Eminem's alter ego Slim Shady, and on "Roman's Revenge" Minaj and Eminem collaborate as their alter egos. On her next album, she said that there would be a lot of Roman: "And if you're not familiar with Roman, then you will be familiar with him very soon. He's the boy that lives inside of me. He's a lunatic and he's gay and he'll be on there a lot." Roman has a mother, Martha Zolanski, who appeared on "Roman's Revenge" with a British accent and singing on "Roman Holiday" for the first time. Martha appeared in the "Moment 4 Life" video as Minaj's apparent fairy godmother. Although Minaj was rapping in songs such as "All I Do Is Win (Remix)", she promised to introduce Nicki, Roman and Onika on her first album.
Minaj has said that artists who have influenced her musical style include Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Lil Wayne, Smokey Robinson, Lauryn Hill, Jadakiss, Natasha Bedingfield, Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones, M.I.A. and Cyndi Lauper. She cites Foxy Brown and Jay-Z as major influences: "I really loved [Foxy] as a female rapper. I was really interested in her mind and her aura [and] I was really, really into Jay-Z. Me and my friends in high school, we were reciting all of the Jay lyrics. His words were our words in our conversations all the time." She said: "I never really told Foxy how much she has influenced me and how much she changed my life, and you've gotta tell people that when they're alive to even be able to take the compliment, instead of paying tribute to them when they're no longer here", adding that Foxy Brown was "the most influential female rapper" for her.
Jada Pinkett Smith is one of Minaj's role models in her acting career. Minaj was inspired by R&B singer Monica, singing "Why I Love You So Much" at every talent show she entered. Performing in Atlanta on her Pink Friday Tour, she called Monica one of her all-time greatest musical influences of all time. Minaj has also cited Kanye West, Trina and Drake as influences.
She called Betsey Johnson a fashion inspiration: "[Betsey] is a free spirit. When I met her the other day, I felt like I knew her for my whole life. She's so warm and considerate and caring. She's amazingly talented and I've been wearing her clothes forever, so to meet her was like, 'Yay!' [I was] bowing down to her; she's dope!" Minaj has also expressed appreciation for Cyndi Lauper's style and how her videos inspired her as a teenager: "When I first went to get my hair colored, I was about 14 and I wanted blonde highlights. The beautician said, 'No, you have to get your mother on the phone,' and I was just crying and begging. I've always been experimenting. Cyndi Lauper's videos - that's what intrigued me."
Minaj has been affiliated with several manufacturing companies and endorsed a number of products during her career. Her first collaboration was a November 2010 endorsement deal with MAC Cosmetics which sold a lipstick, "Pink 4 Friday", for four consecutive Fridays to promote Pink Friday. Minaj helped introduce the Casio TRYX in Times Square in April 2011, and created a six-piece nail polish collection for OPI Products with colors named after her songs in October. That December Mattel produced a custom-made, Minaj-themed Barbie doll valued at about $15,000 for auction on charitybuzz.
Minaj helped introduce the Nokia Lumia 900 in Times Square in April 2012, and appeared in television and internet advertisements for Pepsi's "LiveForNow" campaign the following month; the TV commercial featured a remix of "Moment 4 Life". She participated in the 2012 Viva Glam campaign with Ricky Martin, which raised $270 million for the Mac AIDS Fund. With designer Jeremy Scott, Minaj signed an endorsement deal with Adidas' fall and winter 2012 campaign to appear in internet advertisements and commercials for Adidas Originals. Set to her song, "Masquerade", her segment of the advertisement was filmed in Brooklyn and also featured Big Sean, Derrick Rose, Sky Ferreira and 2NE1 in other locations worldwide. In September 2012 Minaj and Give Back Brands introduced her first fragrance, Pink Friday, and a Pink Friday Special Edition was released in April 2013.
Minaj fronted the Viva Glam campaign in 2013, which included the introduction of Nicki 2 lipstick and lip gloss. That January she introduced the Nicki Minaj Collection for Kmart, composed of clothing, accessories and housewares. In February Bluewater Comics announced that Minaj would star in the Fame biographical-comic series, debuting in Fame: Nicki Minaj. She partnered with Beats Electronics to introduce the Pink Pill speaker in April, appearing with DeRay Davis in a commercial later that month. In June Minaj said she would lead an ad campaign for Myx Fusions, a moscato beverage of which she is a part owner. Her second fragrance, Minajesty, was released in September 2013.
Minaj is the only female rapper to be featured on the Forbes Hip Hop Cash Kings list. She made her first appearance on the list in 2011, earning $6.5 million from May 2010 to May 2011. In 2012, she placed eighth on the list, earning $15.5 million from May 2011 to May 2012. Minaj rose to fourth on the list in 2013, earning $29 million from June 2012 to June 2013. She made her fourth consecutive appearance on the list in 2014, earning $14 million from June 2013 to June 2014. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Minaj donated $15,000 to the Food Bank For New York City and held a turkey drive at her alma mater, PS 45.
Minaj is a Christian, and said that after her father went to rehab and began attending church "he got saved and started changing his life." In July 2011, Minaj's cousin, Nicholas Telemaque, was murdered near his home in Brooklyn, which she refers to in her songs "Champion": "Cause they killed my little cousin, Nicholas/ But my memory's only happy images," and "All Things Go": "I lost my little cousin to a senseless act of violence."
Critics have noted Minaj's use of varied sexual identities in her music, some implying that she is bisexual. Although she has said that she does not date or have sex with women, she told Out magazine "I don't date men either". In an interview with Vibe she said, "I just embrace all people of all lifestyles and I don't tell them they are bad people ... But I feel like people always wanna define me and I don't wanna be defined." In late 2014, Minaj separated from her longtime boyfriend Safaree Samuels. Several tracks on The Pinkprint, as well as its accompanying short film, are believed to have been inspired by the end of their relationship. Minaj revealed she had an abortion as a teenager in her song "All Things Go".
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