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.
Nicki Minaj 2009 BET Hip Hop Awards
ATLANTA – OCTOBER 10: Nicki Minaj attends the BET Hip Hop Awards ’09 at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on October 10, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Nicki Minaj Celebrity Citing
MIAMI BEACH, FL – NOVEMBER 01: Nicki Minaj is seen leaving the Nicki Minaj Pink Party at Mansion nightclub on November 1, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/WireImage)
2010 American Music Awards
Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2010 American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 21, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
The USO Presents “VH1 Divas Salute The Troops”
MIRAMAR, CA – DECEMBER 03: Recording artist Nicki Minaj performs onstage during “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” presented by the USO at the MCAS Miramar on December 3, 2010 in Miramar, California. “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” concert event will be televised on Sunday, December 5 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on VH1. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for VH1)
The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 13: Recording artist Nicki Minaj arrives at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
2011 MTV Movie Awards
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA – JUNE 05: Recording Artist Nicki Minaj poses in the press room at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards at Gibson Amphitheatre on June 5, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
54th Annual GRAMMY Awards
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: Singer Nicki Minaj arrives at 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held the at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Today Show Season 61
TODAY — Pictured: Nicki Minaj appears on NBC News’ “Today” show — (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
Season Premiere Screening Of Fox’s “American Idol”
WESTWOOD, CA – JANUARY 09: Singer Nicki Minaj attends the season premiere screening of Fox’s “American Idol” at Royce Hall, UCLA on January 9, 2013 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
Billboard Music Awards 2013
2013 Billboard Music Awards