After a night filled with classic island vibes courtesy of Kes and Machel Montano, and late 90’s Hip-Hop courtesy of The Fugees and Nas, headliner Nicki Minaj reigned over the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture concert main stage with an hour-long set filled with everything from her chart-topping smash hits to her fan-favorite classics as she made her highly-anticipated return.

This was Nicki’s first-ever appearance on the ESSENCE stage, and she surely exceeded fans’ expectations as they packed out New Orleans’ Caesar’s Superdome on Friday night.

After about 45 minutes of anticipation, the stadium lights dimmed as Terrence J announced the Queen’s arrival. Donning a blonde ponytail wig and sheer shroud covering a skintight black crushed velvet outfit, the many-monikered rap superstar took the stage to a cacophony of screams from her loyal barbs, launching directly into a high-energy rendition of her latest hit, “Do We Have A Problem,” followed by her verse on Fivio Foreign’s “We Go Up.”

Nicki surprised the crowd with rare performances of other catalogue classics including “Beez in the Trap, ” “Moment 4 Life,” “Did It On Em,” and more.

Nicki was, of course, sure to bring out a few surprise guests to join her on-stage. Being that she was on the scene celebrating Black Joy in one of the epicenters of Black culture, Nicki couldn’t miss the opportunity to share the stage with her label leader and brother in chart domination, Lil Wayne. Together, they performed hits like “High School” and their most recent joint hit, “Seeing Green.”

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