In 2009, when Nicki Minaj released her freestyle Itty Bitty Piggy, it catapulted the New York born rapper into the chart topping award-winning star she is today. Despite a controversial run and public disputes within the last few years, there’s no denying that Minaj entered the industry when female rap was arguably stagnant.

In the beginning, her advanced and creative style choices had critics confused however, Minaj was influencing a generation that longed for a female artist. Most importantly, a Black performer expressing themselves to the masses. From her colored wigs to her cosplay inspired fashion moments, Minaj’s style was unpredictable and celebrated by her fans- notoriously known as the Barbz.

Today as the “Chun Li” rapper turns 38, ESSENCE is rounding up her most iconic style moments. From Grammy red carpets to award show performances, Nicki Minaj has proven that she can pull off just about anything.

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