Pop Stars Before They Were Famous

It's difficult to imagine life before Bieber and Gaga, but what's even weirder is thinking of pop stars' lives before they hit it big. How fierce a rapper was Nicki Minaj before all the wigs? Was Rihanna always so "Hard"? How emo was Skrillex back when he was just Sonny Moore? Has Lady Gaga always had a thing for wearing inanimate objects on her head?

Here at Billboard.com, we have answers. We've compiled some of the better -- and better left alone -- footage of music's most popular acts before they hit it big. Watch how pageants, talent shows and less-than-successful boy bands and girl groups shaped your favorite stars.

Next: Bruno Mars

Nicki Minaj, circa 2007

A couple of years before Lil Wayne signed her to the Cash Money/Young Money family and long before she was sitting next to Anna Wintour at New York Fashion Week, Nicki Minaj was living in Queens, rapping on the streets of New York. There are no pink wigs or synchronized "Super Bass" dancers in this James Del Gatto directed video, just Minaj, thanking her fans and freestyling about life in the city and the questionable state of hip-hop.

Next: Bruno Mars

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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