Nicki Minaj’s big night at ‘MTV Video Music Awards’ was a testament to her devoted fanbase

"The Barbz" came out in droves to support the superstar rapper as she co-hosted the 2022 MTV VMAs and received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

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Nicki Minaj was arguably the main attraction at Sunday’s 2022 “MTV Video Music Awards.” The 10-time Grammy Award-nominee got her flowers from the network as co-host, received awards and performed a show-stopping medley of her hits.

But the reverberation of admiration from attendees illustrated just how much Minaj has accomplished in her career. Her devoted fanbase, known as The Barbz, was out in full force at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center, the primary location of the ceremony, which included two other stages in the New York City area.

It all began with Minaj performing a career retrospective. Weeks ago, MTV announced that she would receive the 2022 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard for her career achievement in music videos. Before receiving the trophy, she performed on the VMA stage for the first time since 2019.

On a stage set-piece built as a giant pink house, a light fixture that spelled “Nicki” illuminated the rapper in silhouette as she rapped the opening lines of “All Things Go,” the first track of her 2014 album, “The Pinkprint.” Starting with the iconic verse that catapulted her into stardom — on Kanye West’s “Monster” — she launched into her classic material.

Minaj, surrounded by dancers, seamlessly transitioned from one hit to the next: “Chun-Li,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Super Bass” and “Anaconda.” She ended the medley with her new song, “Super Freaky Girl,” which debuted last week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Throughout the 10-minute performance, the audience screamed nearly every rhyme back to her. Waving their LED wrist bands that turned pink at strategic moments, The Barbz took over the Prudential Center.

The Barbz dominance continued as Minaj approached the stage to receive the Video Vanguard Award from five Barbz members. Videos of fans professing their love for her appeared on the venue’s screen, each one saying how her music saved their lives or made them better people.

The “Truffle Butter” rapper graciously thanked other rappers who inspired her in her youth, ranging from Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh to Lauryn Hill and Foxy Brown. Minaj also acknowledged the namesake of the Video Vanguard Award and other deceased musicians.

2022 MTV VMAs – Show
Nicki Minaj performs on Aug. 28, 2022 during the 2022 “MTV Video Music Awards” at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for MTV/Paramount Global)

“I wish Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here,” Minaj said. “I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish that people took mental health seriously, even the people you think have the perfect lives. I wish Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD and Nipsey Hussle were here.”

Minaj’s winning didn’t stop there. Later in the evening, during her portion as awards co-emcee, she won the Best Hip-Hop Video award for her collaboration with Lil Baby, “Do We Have a Problem.”

And throughout the show, The Barbz never let up. Every time Minaj took the stage, their applause and cries of praise nearly drowned out her voice. It is a testament to her legacy and her connection to her fanbase that helped make the 2022 MTV VMAs a highlight of her career.

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