Nicki Minaj has come a long way since she dropped her first mixtape Playtime Is Over back in 2007. These days she’s selling out concerts worldwide, racking up platinum hits, rubbing shoulders with the entertainment elite, and this week she dropped her sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. To commemorate the milestone, we’re taking a look back at Nicki Minaj’s evolution, with some unreleased footage from her Playtime Is Over mixtape cover shoot.
Director James Del Gatto had the chance to film Nicki as she shot the mixtape cover back in 2007 and this is our first glimpse of the Barbie that the Queens rapper has fully transformed into. “You should feel very special to be behind the scenes of the world premiere of my photo shoot,” Nicki teases in the footage. “We’re going with the whole Barbie doll theme so I’m gonna be doing a lot of kooky poses because I have to look like a doll straight out the box. But I’m not a Barbie that needs to play—Playtime is Over.”
Del Gatto, who met Nicki before her rise to fame, says that the Trinidad native had star power written all over her from the beginning. “She already had this Barbie thing going,” he said of meeting her back in ’07. After watching her grow into an international superstar and receiving criticism for straying from her hip-hop roots, Del Gatto says it’s all a part of the evolving Nicki persona.
“Part of what her fans should understand is that what makes her so great is that she understand and connects to all of these different parts of life,” he says. “All of these different types of people, cultures, personalities—and that’s what makes her so great. She’s not gonna want to keep herself in a box and just do one thing and her fans really wouldn’t want her to do that in my opinion.”
“Right now she’s just enjoying being who she is, developing, expanding enjoying all these parts of herself and life.”
To celebrate Tuesday’s (April 3) release of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, we will be examining the “Evolution of Nicki Minaj” throughout the week. Check MTV News every day to see how the Southside Jamaica, Queens, Barbie went from a promising mixtape standout to rap’s reigning queen.