Five years after her Minajesty’s debut album, we take a look back at the outfits that made her hip hop fashion royalty
Do you remember life before Nicki Minaj? Nah, me neither. But it’s been five years this month since the Trinidadian-American rapper twerked into our lives and speakers for good via her debut studio effort Pink Friday, the album that catapulted her from niche mixtape queen to reigning hip hop royalty. Although, as we know, Minaj has never just been about the sounds, but the style too. With 72 music videos under her pink wig (25 as lead artist, 47 as featured), Nicki has had more outfit changes than Drake has generated memes. To celebrate her Minajesty and her ever-evolving slew of iconic looks, we’ve put together a definitive rundown of our all-time favourites.
NICKI GOES NINJA
What? Nicki Minaj – "Your Love" (2010)
Why we love it: This was one of Nicki’s earliest music video efforts and we’re all over this fierce, jet-black ninja-style mask and straight, angled shoulder pads. Extra points for making a samurai sword look like a fashion accessory and not just a deadly weapon.
HARAJUKU BARBIE VS ROMAN ZOLANSKI
What? Kanye West – "Monster (ft. Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Bon Iver & Rick Ross)" (2010)
Why we love it: Nicki’s verse on “Monster” slayed every other rapper on the track (including Yeezy himself). “Forget Barbie, fuck Nicki, she’s fake / she’s on a diet but her pockets eating cheesecake” she raps, flitting between alter egos Harajuku Barbie and Roman Zolanski. Although it’s not just the verse that rules, but her outfits too – from Harajuku’s neon-pink, block-fringed wig to Roman’s spiky gold grills.
BUBBLEGUM ON ICE
What? Nicki Minaj – "Super Bass" (2011)
Why we love it: Nicki’s effervescent, colour-spiked vid for “Super Bass” won a shower of awards including two MTV VMA’s for ‘best hip hop’ and ‘best female’ video of the year, and this is surely in no small part because of her spectacular style moments – not forgetting this pink giraffe print bodysuit and battenberg hair ON ICE.
THE FEMALE WEEZY
Why we love it: Nicki Minaj dressing up as Lil Wayne is, weirdly, the best thing ever. “This pussy clean, this pussy squeaky, that pussy old, that pussy creaky,” she raps in a slow drawl, blonde dreads swinging, cross necklaces glinting and camo trousers slung low, showing that Nicki possesses even more Weezy swag than Weezy himself.
JEWEL BOOTS IN THE BATH
What? Nicki Minaj – "I Am Your Leader (ft. Cam'Ron and Rick Ross)" (2012)
Why we love it: There isn’t a single moment in this video where the rapper doesn’t look on point. From that black PVC dominatrix-style dress to her bejewelled police/stripper look, "I Am Your Leader" is one of her most stylish vids to date. Although our personal fave is when she wears these sparkling thigh-high boots and that mint-green wig while getting sassy in a bubble bath.
SNOW WHITE CATSUIT
Why we love it: We already know that Nicki’s guest verse on this track rules, mainly because of the line “I got a big fat ass, big dicks follow”, but we love the video too because of her and Ciara’s futuristic icy white-as-Colgate skin-tight body suits and stacked-up heels.
YOU GOT BUNS, HUN
What? Nicki Minaj – "Anaconda" (2014)
Why we love it: Nicki Minaj’s Amazonian princess outfit in “Anaconda” is so iconic that it’s even got its own extraordinary (albeit really weird) waxwork figure on display at Madame Tussauds on the Las Vegas strip. Wearing a shining gold bikini surrounded by leaves, Nicki looks unstoppable.
BADASS STRIPPER BITCH
Why we love it: Nicki barely raps a full line in Rae Sremmurd’s uber-catchy strip club anthem (bar “Ass fat, yeah I know, you just got cash, blow some mo”) but she doesn’t have to – she just has to turn up in this lime and pink ensemble, wave some crisp dollar bills and own the place.
KILLER IN HEELS
What? Nicki Minaj – "Lookin Ass" (2014)
Why we love it: This was one of Nicki’s most controversial music videos to date, and simultaneously one of her most fearless looks. In a sleek black dress and killer heels, a monochrome Nicki aims two assault rifles to the sky and knocks the viewer dead. Bow down.
SWIMSUIT ON FLEEK
What? Nicki Minaj – "Feeling Myself (ft. Beyoncé)" (2015)
Why we love it: Really, “Feeling Myself” could do with a separate list of definitive fashion moments because it’s so crammed with them, from Nicki’s incredible “pervert” tee (watch out Tyga) to Beyonce’s now-iconic black and white “warrior” shirt. Although we’re personally most enamoured with Nicki’s candyfloss-coloured jacket and printed Moschino swimsuit.