Nicki Minaj ran through many of her biggest hits during her Rolling Loud New York headlining set on day one of the star-studded festival.On Friday evening, there was a dramatic drop in temperature, but that didn’t stop Nicki Minaj‘s fans from lining up nearly an hour before her set at Citi Field for this year’s Rolling Loud New York began. Thought it was windy, fans with pink wigs, pink Afros, fishnet stockings, and eccentric festival ‘fits came and showed out to witness their rap queen grace the Fashion Nova stage. Thousands of Nicki’s colorful and incredibly diverse fanbase were enmeshed together in the cold and each of them remained patient for one of hip hop’s biggest female rappers. After nearly a 40-minute wait, Nicki arrived.
Her arrival in an all-Black custom Dolce and Gabbana Fall/Winter 2022 runway look paired with a nearly 50-inch jet Black weave injected a burst of energy into the crowd — fans immediately began screaming when she came out. Minaj’s set began with the high octane and ballsy single “We Go Up” that arrived earlier this year. She rapped for quite a bit during this song, and walked down the stage’s runway. Fivio Foreign joined her and shared his verse that aligns perfectly with the New York drill song.
Since Rolling Loud is a rap-centric festival, it made sense for Nicki to immediately pivot to “Did It On’em.” It was an enjoyable experience to watch Minaj revel in her clever lyricicm from this 2011 hit. Her standing as the reigning female rapper in the ‘10s was what this moment reminded me of – her track record during that era was spotless – she released her debut album Pink Friday during this era. Fans were eager to rap along to this one. There was nothing delicate about Minaj’s rendition of “Feeling Myself” which came next. She performed nearly the entire track and it was marvelous.
BIA’s “Whole Lotta Money” came almost midway through the set. It was a joyous link-up, and both rappers were all smiles. Many fans were fixated on rapping along to both of their verses, and you could feel the energy of that throughout the performance of this song. The set didn’t stop here, Minaj then brought out Lil Uzi Vert who’d just appeared on the same stage for his set before Nicki’s headlining slot. The two rapped and made their way down the stage’s runway for “The Way Life Goes.” Minaj also brought out Chicago’s G Herbo for their collaboration “Chi-Raq.” What ensued next was “Chun-Li.” While she changed into a colorful custom Roberto Cavalli look, her DJ shared “Itty Biggy Piggy.”
Nicki then got into her pop bag and shared “Starships” and then segued into “Moment For Life,” her closing song. Both the former and latter are indicative of the massive crossover success she had years ago when she leaned into the pop market. Witnessing her closing set alongside her fans, the Barbz was chaotic, but also ushered in the realization that rap shows should be exciting and epic at the same time. How do you give a rap queen her flowers? The answer is simple: by giving her the headlining act slot for a three-day hip-hop festival on the opening night to set the tone for every artist that’ll follow her.