Minaj has been noted by the media for her curvaceous figure and sex appeal. She has made "signing boobs" part of her movement to empower women. Minaj considers that she is competing with both male and female rappers, because her big success in hip hop.
Minaj was known for wearing outlandish costumes and wigs, which leads to comparisons to Lady Gaga, and was often called "the black Lady Gaga", but, at beginings of 2012, the public noticed Minaj change of image, to a more serious and classy style. She cites Alexander McQueen, Versace, and Christian Louboutin as her favorite designers.
Minaj is an avid Twitter user, holding a total of 25,555 tweets and over 17 million followers as of January 2014. She is one of the most followed persons in the world. She has more than 39 million likes in Facebook, more than 4.7 million suscribers and more than 1.6 billion views in YouTube. She refers to her fans as the "Barbz" and her male straight and gay following as "Boyz" and "Ken Barbz", respectively, deriving from her alter-ego "Harajuku Barbie".
- Main article: Alter egos
Minaj is famed for her use of alter egos in her songs. The first one created as an imaginary friend was Cookie, and the latest one is called Nicole, with a total of 15 alter egos. At the beginnings of her career, in her mixtape times, she was highly known for using alter egos such as Nicki Lewinsky, Nicki the Ninja and Nicki the Boss, where she explicitly said who alter ego was in which song. The popularity of the egos, lead Minaj to create a more creative and outstanding alter ego, which is the most popular of all, called Roman Zolanski. As of 2013, she hasn't mentioned the employment of any alter egos but some fans still believe she continue to use them.
Minaj is known for her animated rapping style, particularly her flow. She often combines metaphors, punchlines, and wordplay into her work, which has received comparisons to her mentor, Lil Wayne. The New York Times described Minaj as "a sparkling rapper with a gift for comic accents and unexpected turns of phrase. She's a walking exaggeration, outsize in sound, personality and look. And she's a rapid evolver, discarding old modes as easily as adopting new ones." While many critics describe her technique as bubblegum rap, Minaj explained, "What people don't know is that before I was doing that craziness I was doing me, I was just doing regular sounding rap that anyone could hear and identify with. But once I started doing all that weird shit—im not mad at it because it got everyone's attention". Widely recognized as a rap artist, Minaj heavily lends herself to electronic music genres, especially electropop. Her debut album Pink Friday marked her exploration of the genre, spawning a string of electro-hits, including "Super Bass". Following the same conventions of combining rap with electronic synths, Minaj's second album pervasively toiled in the electropop genre and generated various songs, including "HOV Lane", "Whip It", "Automatic", "Come On A Cone", "Young Forever", and "Fire Burns", and the Billboard hits, "Roman Holiday" and "Beez in the Trap". At this stage in Minaj's career, she adventured into collaborations with other artists, producing additional electronic hits "The Boys" with singer Cassie and "Beauty and a Beat" with Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber.
Her verse in Kanye West's "Monster" was well received by critics, stating she had the best verse in the song. Her alter egos are incorporated in her lyrics through her use of British accents (Roman Zolanski) and being soft-spoken (Harajuku Barbie.) Ice-T says of Minaj's rapping style, "[Minaj] does her thing. She has her own way of doing it. She has an ill vocal delivery. She kind of reminds me of a female Busta Rhymes, like how she throws her voice in different directions."
Minaj cites the following musicians as her major influences:
Minaj influences in her acting career are the following:
Minaj influences in fashion are the following:
Minaj states that the following artists have influenced her musical style: