Nicki Minaj has reportedly crossed a new milestone with her sexually-charged “Anaconda” video. According to Chart Data, the 2014 visual has surpassed one billion YouTube views, making her the first female rapper to have a solo song accomplish this feat. The multi-platinum artist joins Katy Perry and Rihanna as the only other female artist to have six music videos with more than a billion views.
But “Anaconda” has been breaking records since it arrived seven years ago. Directed by Colin Tilley, the visual premiered on VEVO the night of August 19, 2014 and hit 19.6 million views in less than 24 hours. At the time, that was the most views the platform had ever seen.
Par for the course, the hypersexuality portrayed in the visual stirred up plenty of controversy and sparked countless think pieces on the symbolism behind it. But as Nicki Minaj explained to ABC News, she simply wanted to sexually empower more voluptuous women.
“I wanted to reinstate something,” she said. “Because of the shift in pop culture, even Hip Hop men are really glorifying the less curvy body. I wanted to say, ‘Hey ladies, you’re beautiful. Hopefully, this changes things and maybe it won’t change things, but I love it.”
She later told GQ, “I don’t know what there is to really talk about. I’m being serious. I just see the video as being a normal video … I think the video is about what girls do. Girls love being with other girls, and when you go back to us being younger, we would have slumber parties and we’d be dancing with our friends.”
“Anaconda” served as the second single from Nicki Minaj’s third studio album The Pinkprint and boasted production from Polow da Don, DJ Spydr and Da Internz. It also heavily sampled the 1992 smash hit “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot who quickly cosigned the video just one day after its arrival.
“OK after watching @NICKIMINAJ Anaconda 37 times I only have one word to sum up my feelings,” he tweeted. “DAMNNNNN!!!!!”
During a 2014 interview with VladTV, Sir Mix-A-Lot admitted he had “a whole new level of respect” for Nicki because of the song and was now a “fan for life.” He also said he knew the song would be a hit before it was even released.
“It was similar [to ‘Baby Got Back’], but she was trying to find a chorus,” he said. “That was her thing. She said ‘I need to find a chorus. I gotta come up with something.’ And she kept bouncing it back and forth on her phone. I had no idea what she was gonna come with. I knew she was gonna use ‘Baby Got Back.’ But I had no idea that the ‘Anaconda’ thing—When I heard the title I knew already. I said ‘Oh yeah, that’s a hit.’ I knew.”
The Pinkprint debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart with roughly 244,000 total album-equivalent units sold in its first week and was nominated for a Best Rap Album Grammy at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in 2016. The album has since been certified 2x-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).