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By Yolanda Sangweni

I’m a moderate Nicki Minaj fan, but I’m not one of the Barbz.

I root for Nicki because I think she’s one of the best to ever do it. When people call her the “best female emcee” of the moment, I’m not afraid to correct them and say she’s among the top emcees of the moment, period. No need for the female part.

But I’m also the person who attended the Brooklyn stop of The Pinkprint Tour last night and saw a man wearing a T-shirt that read “Flow so sick, I need a healer” and said, “Great line. Who said that?”

Oh Em Gee! He looked at me like, “Do you know you’re at a Nicki Minaj concert lady?”

So you see, my Nicki Minaj stan-dom is complicated. I love and support her purely on the strength of her badassery, but I’m not invested in all her rhymes. Last night’s concert had me wanting to strengthen the bonds of my commitment. Here are 8 things I learned about the world of Minaj:

1. She attracts an unbelievably diverse crowd
Since we’re in presidential candidate mode and all, I couldn’t help scanning the crowd at Nicki’s concert and thinking, wow, this is a candidate’s dream; a crowd that’s racially diverse, and varies from young to middle-aged. There was the gay White couple who kept holding up a small cut-out of Nicki’s ‘Anaconda” cover (not sure how they thought she was gonna see it, but they were sure), to the Puerto Rican executive chef (he told me) seated near me who got his entirelife dancing and reciting every lyric. It was refreshing to be in a space that truly represents the diversity of America.

2. She’s relatable to her fans
Nicki’s fans feel so comfortable with her that they speak to her like they would a close friend—with flair and tons of ‘tude. “I have the same hairstyle as you, b****h” yelled one fan as Nicki scanned the crowd looking to pick someone to come on stage. Her response? She laughed. “Only in New York,” she said. Nicki LOVES her fans and interacts with them from the front row all the way to the nosebleeds. They love her back.

3. A Nicki Minaj concert is the ultimate “No Judgment” zone
Talk about self-expression. Just sit back and take in all the colorful hair, the piercings in places you didn’t know could be pierced, the tattoos, and all the love. Thoughts to self: I need to become more Team Minaj.

4. Nicki’s giving you many sides of her personality
One moment Nicki’s flexing her feminist muscle and calling men to task for calling women “thots” and telling them to “kiss the mother f***n ground” women walk on,” the next she’s Barbie pop Nicki of “Superbass” and “Starships.”

5. She gives her fans her all, and more
Nicki’s show was supposed to end at 11pm last night. But she went off script and  went over time to sing classics from her catalogue. Each time, fans would recite every lyric back to her, even when the music cut off.

6. She’s prone to the occasional off-the-cuff motivational speech
“Stop hating on people and start living your life,” Nicki told the crowd. “You probably have someone hating on you right now. There will always be petty people in your life. Don’t even give them a tenth of your energy. Eventually everyone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart will fall away.”

7. She shares her vulnerabilities and her journey with her fans
“Remember when I was on DVDs?” Nicki asks her fans, taking them back to a time when she was just another unsigned rapper with a dream peddling her music. Her journey from that time to headlining the Barclays Center is a recurring subject in her show. “This is a dream come true, y’all,” she said. On the topic of love and relationships she’s equally conversational. “I don’t like giving away my power,” she said, sharing her doubt about completely letting go in a relationship (she’s dating rapper Meek Mills). “I don’t think that you should have power over my emotions.”

8. She’s a Black woman at the height of her career
Color me sentimental, but I was truly moved seeing that “little Black girl from Queens” (as she describes herself) who dreamt of being a rapper command a crowd the way she does. I thought about other women in hip-hop who laid the foundation so that we could get a Nicki Minaj in 2015. Seeing her standing on their shoulders gave me all kinds of Black Girl feels and had me saying “Yaaasss, Nicki! Yaasss!” as I made my way home.

The Pinkprint Tour ends August 22.

Article Source: Essence.com