August 8th, 2012
Nicki Minaj showing potential during her “Pink Friday” tour
Nicki Minaj performs during the St. Louis leg of her “Pink Friday” tour. Minaj performed such hits as “Beez In Da Trap” and “Moment 4 Life”. Photo by/LAWRENCE BRYANT
By Kenya Vaughn
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
ST. LOUIS, MO - The vibe at the Peabody Opera House could be described as energy rising as Nicki Minaj prepared to take the stage for the St. Louis leg of her ‘Pink Friday’ tour.
As a backdrop landed before fans to allow the stage to be prepared for Minaj’s set, they exploded and cheered. It was a small indicator of what was to come.
As one of the most anticipated hip-hop debuts in at least a generation, Minaj had the advantage of die- hard ‘Barbz’ so enthralled that whether or not she lived up to expectations and/or potential was beside the point.
The legitimacy of Minaj’s talent manages to miraculously seep through a host of sensory overload and gimmicky antics – which was the case when she opened her debut as a headliner with “Roman’s Revenge.”
In a black hooded cloak, the focus was on Minaj’s flow as fans were set up for a big reveal. When you strip away the “extra” her cadence, rhythm and content deserve respect.
But just like with her presence in the industry, when the show kicks off, the “character” swoops in and overshadows the artistry.
Minaj went for the hits early in her 75 minute or so set, performing “Did it On ‘Em,” “Beez In Da Trap,” “Moment 4 Life” and a few of her hottest guest verses early.
The moment was up, but it didn’t stay that way once the first of several wardrobe changes commenced where Minaj would exit the stage but leave her music playing for fans – offering a series of what could only be described as temporary listening party segments.
She offered three sections to her show that kicked off with hit-maker Nicki, heartbroken Nicki and concluded with homegirl Nicki – where she performed a few snippets from the mixtapes that created the initial buzz before Minaj exploded into her current status as an international popular music sensation.
Minaj received aid from backing vocals, but still proved to be a decent live performer with respect to her singing and lyrical interpretation.
The downside to her debut tour would have to be the fragmentation of it all. The framing of the wardrobe changes and incomplete song presentations left little room for a consistent flow from the stage to the fans.
But the fans seemed unfazed and unyielding as the melting pot of demographics – although mostly an MTV audience – stayed on their feet and showered Minaj with praise.
“St. Louis is my favorite city – make sure you record me saying this,” Minaj said to the crowd. “Nobody is touching St. Louis.”
Her ability to connect with the crowd was worthy of recognition - even if she left them hanging from time to time throughout the course of her performance.
Pink Friday tour wasn’t perfect. But just beyond the fluff, colors, wigs and absurdity of it there is genuine talent in Nicki Minaj. The hope is that her feeling secure enough in her position to switch gears into true artistry comes sooner than later – because only then will she be convicted enough to present a stage show that rises to industry expectations.
Minaj’s opening act 2 Chainz is another story altogether. His elementary rap flow and underwhelming stage presence show no inkling of hope for growth or expectations. Chainz is milking his status as trap music flavor of the month, but didn’t seem to be committed to giving fans any effort whatsoever as he presented some of his better known guest versus and pushed his upcoming album “Based on a T.R.U. Story.”