Rapper Nicki Minaj struggles to open up to friends and family about her fears and insecurities after forcing herself to adopt a tough girl attitude as a child to face up to bullies.

The Starships hitmaker and American Idol judge has become known for her loud and colourful personality, but she admits it's the result of the "living hell" she suffered at the hands of rude youths after moving to the rough neighbourhood of Queens, New York from her native Trinidad when she was a kid.

And Minaj reveals she still finds it difficult to trust others and let them into her inner circle.

She tells Elle magazine, "I went through a lot of bullying early on. Girls made my life a living hell.

"We had come to America from a different country. My brother and I had accents. It was very tough. So I've always put up this wall - it was a self-defence mechanism growing up - because I was almost expecting people to attack me... It's sad."