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watch jay-z, solange and nicki's brilliantly lo-fi first music videos

Started from the bottom now they're here.

by Hana Beach
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Jul 21 2015, 7:42pm

Sometimes it's hard to remember that celebrities weren't always famous. Yes, J. Lo can claim she's still "Jenny from the block" and Drake can melodically tell us that he started from the bottom. But most celebrities present an image that's worlds away from their humble roots. Thankfully, it only takes a trip down a YouTube rabbit hole to remind us that even musical geniuses started somewhere. Featuring brightly colored crocheted hats and Usher cameos, here are the inaugural music videos of five of our favorite stars.

Nicki Minaj, Warning
Nicki Minaj was eight years early to the low-budget music video game. Her 2007 video for her debut track Warning - a reimagining of a Notorious B.I.G. hit of the same name - may be even more DIY than Spike Jonze's iPhone 6 filmed Kanye West music video. The aggressive contrast between the handheld camera work and the diamond-covered, lingerie-wearing Nicki makes an unforgettable impression. The video is pretty tame compared to the rapper's later projects. There are no live snakes or colorful hair and the biggest gimmick in the video are the randomly placed glasses of prosecco. But, despite all the lol-worthy moments, Nicki still hypnotizes with her mad rhymes.

Justin Bieber, One Time
Long before Martha Stewart roasted Justin Bieber and a little before Baby launched him into teen heartthrob infamy, pop's resident bad boy released his first single, One Time. The video for the 2009 track is reminiscent of a wild middle school party or the dance floor at your best friend's bar mitzvah. If you aren't a true #belieber this video might be shocking. It's hard to remember that this prepubescent tween with signature Bieber locks is the same guy who beefed up and disrobed for a sexy Calvin Klein ad. And, with all of Bieber's hits since his debut song, One Time has certainly fallen off the radar and become a certified Bieber deep cut.

Lil' Romeo, ft. Solange Knowles, True Love
Beyoncé got her start in Destiny's Child. But Solange's breakout may have been more memorable: she sang the hook for Lil' Romeo's single True Love, from his second studio album, Game Time. Maybe it was the bright crocheted newsboy caps or the moment when she stands in a cherry grove singing "Anywhere you take me ain't no limit to this love/I'll follow you to the moon and stars above" through highly glossed lips, but this video launched Solange's career. Even the Saint Heron founder and Met Gala attendee can't top her greatest look: a one-sleeved tie-dye crop top and denim gaucho pants.

Jay-Z, Hawaiian Sophie
No musical feud is more famous or well-documented than the Jay-Z-Nas feud that followed the death of Biggie Smalls. Jay-Z took a lot of heat for his appearance in Hawaiian Sophie during the fight over who would succeed B.I.G. as the new king of east coast hip-hop. The video itself is hilarious. Jay-Z falls out of the sky and onto a DIY beach scene. It's hard to act tough and maintain your street cred when you're wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a lei.

Robyn, You've Got That Something
Scandinavian popstar Robyn was famous in Sweden long before invading the iPods of American poptimists. Her 1995 hit You've Got That Something reminds us just how long and successful her career has been. The video stays true to 90s music video cliches and takes place in an abandoned theater - think Backstreet Boys circa Shape of My Heart. Even though the music video lacks Robyn's current futuristic aesthetic, the video's dancing and the Swede's charisma are the same.

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Text Hana Beach
Image via YouTube