Nicki Minaj’s 20 best music videos, ranked

In honour of the rapper being tapped to recieve the Video Vanguard Award at the 22 MTV VMAs, we’re taking a look back through her videography

Often hailed as the ‘Queen of Rap’, Nicki Minaj is one of the defining artists of the last two decades. She’s now about to join an elite group of pop culture heavyweights, having recently been announced as the latest recipient of MTV’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Given in recognition of an artist’s profound impact on music video arts and popular culture, the Video Vanguard Award has been received by the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, Rihanna, and most recently, Missy Elliott.

“Nicki has broken barriers for women in hip-hop with her versatility and creative artistry,” said Bruce Gillmer, president of music, music talent, programming and events at Paramount+. “She has shifted the music industry and cemented her status as a global superstar with her crossover appeal, genre-defying style and continuing to be unapologetically ‘Nicki’.”

With the VMAs just around the corner, what better use of time is there than to look back over Minaj’s entire videography in search of her twenty best videos. A disclaimer: only videos listed on Minaj’s official YouTube channel have been included here (with the exception of Tidal exclusive ‘Feeling Myself’) so don’t go searching for the likes of ‘Bang Bang’ or ‘Get Low’.


Nicki Minaj - MEGATRON

Rounding out the top twenty is ‘MEGATRON’, a tropical neon extravaganza that looks as if it was filmed half in Ibiza and half in the Love Island villa. It’s got many of the hallmarks of a Nicki Minaj video – bright colours, bikinis, jungle scenery, and a fancy car that never gets driven to name a few. As the party gets hotter, Nicki flicks a lighter and the car erupts into spectacularly fake flames. The whole thing is a little derivative of superior videos for ‘Starships’ and ‘Anaconda’, but it’s fun and flashy enough to scrape onto the list.

19. Bed

Nicki Minaj - Bed ft. Ariana Grande

There’s not much to say about this collaboration with Ariana Grande other than it looks pretty. The beach backdrop, billowing white cloth and Nicki’s mermaid tale all add to the effect, although some pretty poor Beats and Lyft product placement quickly detract from it. Ariana can’t seem keep her hands out of her ponytail and Nicki can’t seem to crawl out of the ocean, but they both manage to make it to their seaside double date by the end of the video.

18. I Am Your Leader

Nicki Minaj - I Am Your Leader (Explicit) (Official Video) ft. Cam'Ron, Rick Ross

From the kooky dollhouse setting to the big green hair, there’s shades of Barbie and Dr Seuss in this one, and they blend together surprisingly well. Nicki forgoes plot and focuses only on style, delivering a high-energy romp through a series of fun sets. The editing is epilepsy-inducing, but if you’re going to dive into Minaj’s videography then that’s something you might as well get used to.

17. Freedom

Nicki Minaj - Freedom (Explicit)

If you’re allergic to cliché then look away now, but if you’re ready to embrace Ms Minaj for all that she is then the “Freedom” video is a solid offering. The Biblical imagery is heavy-handed and there’s a lot of birds taking flight, but we also get some pretty spectacular frames, and Nicki does look good in a crown. By the time the video starts fading from greyscale to colour you’ll be won over.

16. Only

Nicki Minaj - Only ft. Drake, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown

With Drake and Lil Wayne at her side, Minaj presides over a dungeon in which men are tortured, beaten, whipped, and generally made uncomfortable. There’s a lot going on and at times it gets a little nonsensical, but strong performances from the three rappers keeps it more or less on track. The Beats product placement is hilariously out of place, but when isn’t it?

15. The Boys

Nicki Minaj, Cassie - The Boys (Explicit)

Police sirens and ominous front pages meet a colourful, larger-than-life doll aesthetic in this charmingly chaotic collaboration with Cassie. The two pose by fancy cars (naturally), get blowouts in a salon, and then rush off to burn down a barber shop. Each second in-between is packed with pink polka dots, lip-shaped sofas and giant sticks of candy floss. A lesser artist would be drowned out, but Nicki rises to the surface.

14. Hard White

Nicki Minaj - Hard White

Witchy, weird and wonderful, the visuals in ‘Hard White’ lean into Minaj’s new darkness, portraying her in turn as a sci-fi villain, a cult leader and a master sorceress. The looks are extravagant and the backdrops are baffling in the best way. To go from ‘Super Bass’ to this definitely shows range.

13. Feeling Myself

You’ll have to head over to Tidal to view this one, or at least wait for someone to illegally upload it to YouTube again (not that we’re endorsing that). It’s worth tracking down – few people have ever had as much fun filming a music video as Beyoncé seems to be having in ‘Feeling Myself’. Nicki’s lyrics are playful and deliberately provocative, and the two of them revel in it, partying their way through the four-minute video and making time to feed each other burgers in a bouncy castle. Also, Nicki wears a football shirt with the word ‘pervert’ on it, which definitely picks up some bonus points.

12. Starships

Nicki Minaj - Starships (Explicit) (Official Video)

Even more chaotic than ‘The Boys’, but endlessly loveable. Nicki’s highlighter yellow wig, the random paint being chucked around the place, the trippy kaleidoscope filter, and the endless colourful bikinis are all pretty memorable. Things only get more astonishing as Nicki heads to what looks to be a UV rave in front of an erupting volcano. There’s a surrealist arthouse film in here somewhere.

11. We Go Up

Nicki Minaj ft. Fivio Foreign - We Go Up (Official Video)

Nicki and collaborator Fivio Foreign return to their hometown communities in New York, driving flashy cars through the streets and rapping amongst crowds of fans. Nicki’s performance is confident, aloof and a little icy – pitch perfect – and somehow the video manages to strike a balance between paying homage to her roots and flexing her new wealth.

10. Pills N Potions

Nicki Minaj - Pills N Potions

This slightly surreal video has plenty of questionable moments – some of it looks suspiciously like a Gap ad, and the Beats pill product placement is probably the most egregious it’s ever been (seriously, the shot will make you wince). But there’s power in stripping Nicki of her bright colours and extravagant outfits for once, especially for a track as intimate as this. Sure, plenty of frames might inspire questions, but when you take it all together, it works.

9. The Night Is Still Young

Nicki Minaj - The Night Is Still Young

One of Nicki’s most cinematic offerings, ‘The Night Is Still Young’ makes the most of its Tokyo setting with plenty of colourful neon sets and sweeping shots of skyscrapers. An ominous super moon looms over the city but no one seems too concerned, despite all the time Nicki spends pointing at the sky. Instead, the video celebrates being carefree, spontaneous, and – you guessed it – young.

8. Do We Have A Problem?

Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Baby - Do We Have A Problem? (Official Music Video)

Less a music video and more a short film, ‘Do We Have A Problem?’ follows rogue agent Nicki as she double crosses her way to victory. There’s a lot of plot to digest very quickly, but the acting scenes are surprisingly engaging and the whole thing looks incredibly impressive. Also, one has to respect Nicki’s devotion to her aesthetic. I too conduct espionage in a giant pink coat.

7. Ganja Burn

Nicki Minaj - Ganja Burn

There’s far too much intro text to digest, but once it gets going the visuals in ‘Ganja Burn’ are pretty spectacular. Nicki wanders through the desert, half-obscured by the dust and wrapped in billowing cloth. The video has some of the best costuming of any of them, setting up the aesthetics of the Queen era with burnt oranges, bejeweled headpieces and gold bikinis.

6. Super Bass

Nicki Minaj - Super Bass (Official Video)

Nicki has always been a larger-than-life performer, as is proved by one of her earliest smash hits. In an instantly recognizable pink wig and white tank top, she dances her way through the chorus of Super Bass with bubblegum pop gloss, saving a little bite for the verses. So many of her favourites are present here – bright colours, UV dance parties, eye-popping wigs. It’s pure joy. There’s even a motorbike made out of ice. What more could we ask for?

5. Barbie Dreams

Nicki Minaj - Barbie Dreams

You have to deliver a convincing amount of cheekiness to get away with a song like ‘Barbie Dreams’. Throwing puppets into the mix is a stroke of genius. Compared to the chaos of many of her videos this is a relatively simple offering, but that works very much in its favour, leaving Nicki space to ham up the provocative lyrics as much as possible. With hair that cycles through every colour of the rainbow, she delivers an unforgettable performance.

4. Pound The Alarm

Nicki Minaj - Pound The Alarm (Explicit)

Nicki visits her native Trinidad and Tobago for a carnival-themed spectacle that delivers in every aspect. Joyful, celebratory and visually stunning, this one’s a real treat. Although one of her busiest, it also feels one of her most authentic, as Nicki gets stuck into the festivities with genuine delight. The video takes us from sunny street parties to a huge firework display, keeping the energy electric throughout.

3. Barbie Tingz

Nicki Minaj - Barbie Tingz

For all Nicki’s captivating performances, ‘Barbie Tingz’ might be the most fun. Changing personality with each new look, she attacks the track with no holds barred. Playing a variety of different dolls, she commits to the physicality of each part entirely, and even with essentially no set behind her she still manages to hold our focus entirely. It’s a shining example of why she is where she is.

2. Chun-Li

Nicki Minaj - Chun-Li

Another entry into Nicki’s cinematic universe, ‘Chun-Li’ opens with Nicki reading a monologue over a tense black and white action-movie sequence. As soon as the song begins, however, we’re in raging colour – the neon sets and bright looks from ‘The Night Is Still Young’ were only a precursor to ‘Chun-Li’. Every frame looks incredible, and Nicki embraces the role of Chun-Li herself with the total commitment her audience can always expect.

1. Anaconda

Nicki Minaj - Anaconda

No Nicki Minaj video has seeped into popular culture quite as irreversibly as 2014’s ‘Anaconda’. We open on Nicki and friends hanging out in the jungle, before we cycle through a series of unforgettable scenes. Nicki works out in a neon-decorated gym (naturally), gets behind a cocktail bar to slice bananas and waste whipped cream, and participates in an infamous dance routine involving chairs and tiny denim shorts. Even a lap dance on Drake isn’t enough to drag it out of the top spot. There was a bit of a stir when ‘Anaconda’ failed to be nominated for Video Of The Year at the 2014 VMAs. With the Video Vanguard Award on the horizon, it feels as if history is finally being corrected.