Nicki Minaj brought The Pinkprint Tour to Sleep Train Amphitheatre on Thursday night, a dynamic spectacle of the superstar's talent, her range in characters and of course, her famous backside.
When Minaj's name is brought up in small talk, a range of reactions usually ensue. She's the epitome of that saying, "Not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely someone's shot of tequila." She's dramatic. She's outrageous. She's also funny, stern, sensitive, passionate and right at home on the stage.
She's a performer, tried and true, who taps into as many facial expressions and vocal stylings as possible to diversify her songs and reach an audience of varying demographics.
Seeing Minaj is not the same as just listening to her. It's better. Minaj brings her songs to life in ways that radio and music videos cannot. To see her live is to understand how this 5 foot, 2 inch girl raised in Queens became the most-charted female rapper in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 and winner of four American Music Awards, eight BET Awards and five Billboard Music Awards .
Here are the 7 things we learned at the Nicki Minaj concert.
1. Nicki is the queen of characters.
Minaj stepped on stage dressed in all black lace, her head draped in a veil and her expression hauntingly serious. Not the bubblegum-cartoon Minaj of yesteryear. Definitely not. Opening with "All Things Go" and flowing into "The Crying Game," she played the dark character up while a ballerina clad in white fluttered around her.
The sassy, snappy, feisty Minaj didn't hide for long. With backup dancers by her side, she flipped modes to pulsate through the raunchy "Feeling Myself," "Only," "Truffle Butter," "Moment 4 Life," "Did it on Em," "Beez in the Trap," "Flawless" and "Anaconda."
Minaj the singing diva was next, flaunting a floor-length pink gown to belt out "Pills N Potions," "Save Me" and "Grand Piano."
And, like a seasoned actress, she dove right back into her wild Minaj persona, dressed in a gold get-up meant for some serious booty-shaking through "Super Bass," "Pound the Alarm" and "Hey Mama."
2. Nicki can sing.
Showing a softer side, Minaj stepped out halfway through the show in her form-fitting gown to both belt and rap "Pill N Potions." The highlight and surprise of the night was the power and clarity in her voice and tone singing "Save Me" and "Grand Piano," both chilling ballads that silenced the audience.
3. Nicki and Meek Mill don't have anything to hide.
The two haven't been the most forthcoming about their relationship, especially with rumors swirling that Minaj might be pregnant after shouting at a Pennsylvania concert: "Make some noise for my baby father!" At the San Diego show, Meek Mill took to the stage to duet with Minaj on "Buy a Heart" and "All Eyes on You." Before he was shuffled off stage, the two hugged and kissed as gold lights sparkled downstage, and he called her the queen.
4. Nicki has a message for all the girls.
Ms. Minaj took a special moment to address all the independent ladies at the show. She praised the women in the audience who weren't dependent on any man. Expletives removed, she told them: "'If he be actin' up, I'm going to get out that house, get my own key, put it in my own car and walk in my own house." Yes, ma'am.
4.5. And for the boys...
She had a message for them, too. "You better be treating you lady right. Because I promise there are 10 other guys lined up right here tonight who will treat her like a queen." Message received.
5. Nicki loves her throwbacks.
It wasn't all Pinkprint on this stop of the tour. Minaj wanted to thank the fans who have been with her since the beginning, giving them a "pop-quiz" to see how many words they could recite from her earlier hits. Their response was impressive, rapping along through "Roman's Revenge," "Right Thru Me," "Win Again," "Love More" and "Throw Sum Mo."
6. Nicki knows her fans can handle the mic.
Bringing two audience members on stage to sing with her, Minaj fully entrusted one hyper-excited young white male with her signature sparkly pink microphone to perform "Whip It." How'd he do? Absolutely nailed it. Even Minaj was impressed.
7. Nicki might have forgotten that she was in San Diego for a bit...
Possibly due to the fact that both fans brought on stage were from Los Angeles, Minaj repeatedly shouted out to L.A. throughout the night, not San Diego. All is forgiven though, since she later posted this Instagram and hashtagged Chula Vista and San Diego.
A photo posted by Nicki Minaj (@nickiminaj) on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:02pm PDT