Nicki Minaj knows how to get the people talking. Her 2015 MTV VMA performance announcement was no exception.
But the star – who’s set to open this year’s show with what’s sure to be a memorable set – has been a hot topic at every VMA she’s attended since 2010. And looking through her performances and red carpet moments, it’s clear that each year Minaj has also shown growth. So, MTV News looked back through the years to see how Nicki’s evolution has unfolded. Here’s what we found:
Nicki made a splash with her MTV VMA debut in 2010. The rapper was joined by Will.I.Am for “Your Love” and “Check It Out” during a pre-show performance. And she also made heads turn with bright pink hair on the red carpet. Minaj was also a presenter that year (along with Katy Perry), but she didn’t take home a Moonman. She lost the “Best New Artist” award to Justin Bieber. Still, she’d be back the following year to take home her first of many VMA trophies.
In 2011, Nicki didn’t get a chance to perform, but she was still a presence that was hard to miss, and not just because of her colorful and out-of-the-box wardrobe on the red carpet. The MC presented an award with Jonah Hill and was also in a hilarious “Beavis & Butt-Head” skit.
That year, the New York rapper was also nominated for “Best Female Video” and “Best Collaboration,” but her sole win would come in the form of “Best Hip-Hop Video” thanks to “Super Bass.”
“I remember when I won for ’Super Bass,’” Minaj told MTV News the following year. “It had gotten to the point where I never won anything, so I would just go to awards shows just to wear a cute outfit. So when they called my name, I was like, ’Is this a joke? What? Is this really happening?’ That was like, a very, very memorable moment. That was one of the best moments in my career, to just hear my name and truly be surprised.”
2012 found Nicki back on stage, only this time it was during the main show as she joined Alicia Keys for a rendition of “Girl On Fire.” She didn’t just heat up the carpet with bright yellow hair and a skin tight outfit; Minaj also made an impact with a win as “Starships” earned her the Best Female Video Moonman.
“Oh my god!” she said while accepting the award. “I really didn’t expect this. Barbz, I know you’re out there, I love you so much. To my Barbz, my Ken Barbz, Young Money Cash Money. I just can’t believe this even happened.” She was also nominated for Best Hip-Hop Video and Best Visual Effects that year.
After a one-year hiatus from the VMAs, Nicki returned in stunning fashion and we’re not just talking about that snake skin mini dress. Minaj performed three songs in the main show. First, she hit the stage for “Anaconda.” Then, she joined Ariana Grande and Jessie J for “Bang Bang.” Then, she linked up with Usher for “She Came To Give It To You.”
Watch Nicki Minaj’s 2014 MTV VMAs Performance