Nicki Minaj is just one of those rappers who knows how to make an impression. 

Bursting onto the scene in the late-2000’s, Ms. Minaj has made a name for herself for more than just her music. Her songs, chart-toppers and party anthems that continue to stay in the public consciousness to this day, are only part of what has helped her leave such an indelible mark on the genre. Her music videos are known for their eye-popping colors, adventurous editing techniques and, as her career has progressed, a deeper sense of dramatic storytelling. Once thought of as just fun, bouncy visuals to have on a YouTube playlist when things are getting lit at a house party, her videos have become something more substantive and, dare I say it, vital to hip-hop culture. She’s gone from showcasing her many influences to influencing the work of others, so we thought it appropriate to gather the ten best of the bunch up and lay them out for you, Top Ten style.

Now, before you comment in a blind rage and say that we forgot videos like “Rake It Up,” “You Da Baddest” or even “Beauty and a Beat,” know that we’re only taking songs where Nicki is the main artist on the track and not the feature. With so many strong features under her belt from her career as a rapper, it would’ve been too difficult a task to narrow those down.

Without further ado, let’s get to it:


High School

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

A strange-yet-compelling visual cross between Scarface and Eyes Wide Shut, Nicki Minaj takes on the role of a woman who’s into a guy with a reputation for breaking all the rules. Making his coin with the “movers” and the “shakers,” Minaj poses next to glittering pools, expensive cars and, most memorably of all, a nearly-naked Lil Wayne as the bass pounds out the speakers. The last minute or so of this video is the most infamous stretch, where the two rappers mime a lovemaking scene that’s set against some lush lighting and wrinkled white sheets. A steamy kick-off to a list that won’t be devoid of sex appeal.

The Night Is Still Young

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

Shot is Los Angeles, California during the spring of 2015, “The Night Is Still Young” features Nicki Minaj enjoying a night out in a city that is bathed in neon lights and dudes in leather jackets. The main recurring shots, where Minaj is surrounded by a female posse while a throbbing set of vertical lights pulsate in the background, are the most eye-catching part of the video and are a nice contrast to the darker city images that make up the bulk of the parallel storyline. Eventually, we see Nicki standing by herself in the middle of a street, pointing upwards, proclaiming that the best is yet to come for those out partying until the wee hours. However, the reverse shot shows an over-sized moon that’s big enough to affect the rise of the tides that hit the Pacific coast. Astronomical abnormalities aside, this is a video that features some memorable outfits and moments.

Va Va Voom

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

A fairy tale mash-up of the highest order, Nicki Minaj got to play multiple characters and live out her princess fantasies for a minute in the “Va Va Voom” music video. Combining some familiar visuals from the likes of Snow White and the Seven DwarfsSleeping BeautyCinderella and Hansel and Gretel, the songs veers from one homage to another at breakneck speed, unconcerned if you get whiplash along the way. Things get kind of distressing at one point too, as an unnamed black Robin Hood enters her little house, where a feast of epic proportions has been laid out, and attempts to attack her with a dagger. Did no one have locks back then? Why was the huntsman so concerned with hip-hop’s ultimate Barbie? The answers to these questions and more await you in this impeccably done video.

Pound The Alarm

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

Shot in Trinidad and boasting an exciting carnival flavor, the music video for “Pound The Alarm” gives the viewer and infectious party flavor to go along with the bumping soundtrack. Complete with the feathered attire one normally associates with the island custom, Minaj is seen leading a parade-style bonanza that features confetti, pristine aerial views of the picturesque landscape and, of course, lots and lots of rump shaking. It wasn’t Minaj’s most successful single of that time period – that honor goes to “Starships” – but the video for “Alarm” still helps cement it as an unmissable party track. If you’re not dancing in your seat already, do yourself a favor and crank that s**t up.

Stupid Hoe

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

With the catchy “Woops” underscoring the urgency behind the music, it’s not a surprise to see frenetic visuals come out to play in the video for “Stupid Hoe.” Wearing different colors of pastel makeups to match her outfits in various scenes, the editing takes on almost a strobe-like feel to it, never seeming to rest on an image for more than a split second until it moves on to the next shot. Steeped in colors that really pop, especially pinks, yellows and light blues, the effects used to sew these shots together doesn’t distract so much as washes over you in one giant, pleasant-sounding wave. Also, Nicki Minaj transforms from an animal to a human being at one point, pulling at the heartstrings of those, like me, who feel nostalgic about the Animorphs series of books. 

Starships

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

Shot in the spring of 2012 in Hawaii, “Starships” is definitely the best-case scenario for any “aliens invading Earth” story I’ve ever seen on tape. They don’t want to blow up the entire planet, they don’t want to abduct any humans and take them aboard for scientific research – in fact, “they” isn’t even a they. It’s one lone beach bunny, manifesting herself in the form of Minaj, who takes great pleasure in posing and prancing around on the warm beaches of Oahu, her green and yellow hair a stark contrast to the rich, darker tones of the blue water that surrounds her. While not the song that fans of her cypher queen persona necessarily love, this was one of the anthems that blared during a good “Girls Night” and, though I cannot judge from personal experience, it probably still does from time to time.

No Frauds

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

Nicki Minaj enjoys inserting the excesses of royalty into her lyrics from time to time and that tendency shows up in the music video for “No Frauds” as well. Whether she’s covered from head to toe in precious gems, as we see in the opening sequence where Nicki sits near one of London’s most famous landmarks, or hitting up the club dressed in a designer dress that’s guaranteed to turn heads, the rapper gives off the aura of someone who should be treated like a queen. Featuring appearances from Drake and Lil Wayne (who gets a chance to sit in the throne that Minaj occupies for most of the video) as well, “No Frauds” sees a star-studded cast descend on the U.K.’s biggest city, ready to take over and make sure that no one stands in their way.

Super Bass

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

“Super Bass” is the single that catapulted Nicki Minaj into the hip-hop and pop stratospheres and the video has similarly seismic effects on the industry as well. The infectious opening chords are matched up with a shot of Nicki’s eyes widening as some ice sculptures begin to melt in the presence of the man who has her heart beat pounding away. In a very Kanye moment, she also synchs up some of the qualities that she adores in her man to what we see appear on the screen: top-down convertible, stacks that he uses to great effects in the club and so on. It’s not particularly deep or carrying extra meaning to be sure, but anyone looking for where Minaj’s trendsetting career as a music video phenomenon began, here is that moment.

Fly

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Nicki Minaj seeks some aid from another one of hip-hop and R&B’s best, Rihanna, in her quest to make a totally awesome video. They succeed, and then some. The construction of the visuals is absolutely striking, borrowing some of the best elements from Blade Runner and Terminator: Judgement Day to make the remnants of their world feel tactile and lived-in. With a get-up that resembles that of a science-fiction queen, Minaj walks the deserted streets with Rihanna, searching for any signs of life. In fact, the lyrics speak about breaking out of the box that life tries to build around you, and with them being the only living souls in this desolate locale, it melds together well and creates no small amount of poignancy. It’s some of the best work Minaj has ever done.

“Regret In Your Tears”

Top 10 Nicki Minaj Music Videos Of All Time

The cream of the crop is a pretty easy choice for me, with one of Minaj’s most heartfelt songs bringing about some equally emotional visuals to go along with it. Opening like a Twilight-esque fantasy yet ending up like more of an adult drama about heartbreak, Nicki leads the charge in telling her man that no one is going to love him like her. The rising waters in the bedroom, coming presumably from the tears of her lover and not a leaky waterbed, help solidify this feeling of suffocation and restrictiveness that she feels in her relationship. Impressively staged and showcasing a number of improbably earnest moments from the normally glib rapper, “Regret In Your Tears” is the crowning achievement in Minaj’s music video career (so far).