Nicki Minaj fans have been buzzing about a particular segment of her set supporting Lil Wayne on the “I Am Still Music Tour” since it kicked off less than two weeks ago in Providence, RI: an interlude in which a male fan is brought onstage and, as her verse from Sean Kingston’s “Letting Go (Dutty Love)” plays, given a “lap dance” of sorts by Ms. Young Money. Minaj claims, in introducing the segment, that this is her way of responding to fans who say she gives too much love to her Barbies and not enough to her male fans. (Clearly the type and nature of that love is gender-distinct.)
On Sunday night at the Nassau Coliseum, the setpiece played out in the usual fashion, with one crucial difference: the “lucky fan” was none other than Lil Wayne himself.
Nicki instructs beforehand, “You’ve got three rules: legs open, hands behind your back, mouth shut. Let’s go!” Yet the “dances” are, unsurprisingly, performances more for the audience (witness dozens of clips from other cities from phone-cams zoomed waaaay into her butt) than for its recipients, from whom Minaj maintains a not-insignificant distance as she grinds, even placing the toe of one of her sharp heels protectively on the seat between the fan’s legs.
So why the substitution of Wayne? Was it a private joke? A ploy for media coverage? (You’re welcome!) Or worse, a shield against boundary-crossing fan behavior? One clue may be found in certain fans’ reception of the dances. During the segment, although the microphone never leaves her hand, Nicki Minaj doesn’t actually rap the “Letting Go” verse live (nor the “Hold Yuh” one that follows it). A skeevy subset of Minaj’s internet followers – ??a mostly-male mob more interested in the possible silicone content of Minaj’s posterior than in any of her music – ??have gone so far as to extrapolate that her entire set is lip synced, despite ample evidence to the contrary in videos that don’t happen to contain lap dance choreography. And after escalating her engagement with the fan in each successive show’s dance, Minaj scaled way back Saturday night in Philadelphia. One would hope that the Weezy substitution is not for fear of Philbinesque impropriety, but if so, at least it’s a preventative action. (There’s plenty of poor-quality footage to prove as much.)
Anyway, the gag works better with Wayne playing up the role. Look at that dopey grin!