The kooky pop singer who inspired Nicki Minaj
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The kooky pop singer who inspired Nicki Minaj

Queens emcee Nicki Minaj has profoundly impacted hip-hop and has been at the forefront of female rap since her emergence in 2007. The Young Money artist is known not only for exceptional lyricism but also for outlandish aesthetics. 

When the Pink Friday musician first exploded into the mainstream, she was a life-sized Barbie doll and seemed to change the colour of her hair daily, with bright pink and neon green wigs being a part of her brand. However, Minaj (real name Onika Maraj) was inspired by a 1980s pop singer. 

Minaj’s fashion became less loud as she matured. However, she wore everything from Hello Kitty dolls to horse headdresses in the early days. At the time, many claimed that Lil’ Kim influenced her colourful style. Still, in 2012, while speaking to New York magazine, the ‘Starships’ singer unveiled that much of her aesthetic was due to Cyndi Lauper. 

Like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper was a trendsetter in the 1980s and encouraged women to be unafraid of self-expression. The ‘True Colors’ vocalist has inspired many modern pop singers. However, Minaj happily cited Lauper as someone who helped her to develop her iconic fashion sense.

While speaking to New York, Minaj expressed her youthful obsession with dying her hair, explaining, “I’ve always been intrigued by colour and by interesting hair. I was one of those weird little girls doing my own hair at the age of nine. I was, like, getting weird gels and new brushes and cornrow holders. I would tweak and perm at the age of 13.”

Unveiling why she became obsessed, the Queens artist explained, “When I first went to get my hair coloured, I was about 14, and I wanted blonde highlights. The beautician said, ‘No, you have to get your mother on the phone,’ and I was just crying and begging. I’ve always been experimenting. Cyndi Lauper’s videos. That’s what intrigued me.”

Minaj frequently references Lauper in her material. In 2010, Minaj and Katy Perry covered Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ at VH1 Divas. Minaj also paid tribute to Lauper by interpolating her 1986 hit ‘True Colors’ with Wiz Khalifa, putting a trap twist on the ballad. 

In 2013, during an appearance on SiriusXM’s Sway In The Morning radio show, Lauper reciprocated Minaj’s love, revealing, “I like Nicki Minaj a lot. My son went through all the hip-hop stuff with me, and he showed me that 50’s voice is kind of butter-smooth. I still like Snoop because he makes me laugh, and I think that Lil Wayne has written some very powerful things about his life.” 

You can watch Nicki Minaj meeting Cyndi Lauper at the 53rd Grammy Awards in the video below.