For a second time, Nicki Minaj has chosen to close her world tour in Dubai.
The Pinkprint Tour bows out tomorrow at the Autism Rocks Arena – 55 dates, 12 months and Dh80 million since kicking off in Stockholm.
The American rapper, at the tail end of 2012, wrapped her Pink Friday: Reloaded tour at Meydan.
It’s been a long, 39-month wait for fans, but not one without hope. Last March, Minaj replied to a fan on Twitter saying: “I’m coming back to Dubai.” The question then was not if, but when.
To be fair, Minaj never promised a gig – and when she stopped off to party at People by Crystal in September, supporting boyfriend Meek Mill, some might have lost all hope. But an eleventh-hour announcement from new promotion company 117 Live saw the extra date tacked on the end of the tour, just last month, at the new temporary venue at Dubai Outlet Mall.
It’s been a long and eventful 39 months for Minaj, too. At the tail end of 2012, she had already been anointed the reigning queen of hip-hop. But her bizarre, children’s birthday party fashion statements and beguiling raft of alter egos and accents – as well as the frequent, patronising comparisons to Lady Gaga – left many serious commentators doubting the reign would last for long.
The past three years have been less about breaking new ground, than strategically solidifying her pole position. The result is that Minaj is no longer a mere reigning monarch, but an established chapter in the history books. There simply has never been a bigger – some would say better – female rapper.
Much of this solidification comes down to her third studio album, The Pinkprint. After the dance-pop vibe and all-ages sheen of 2012's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, Minaj was eager to return to her roots, serving up harder tunes more informed by traditional hip-hop, as well as debuting a number of markedly vulnerable ballads. Most critics agreed it was Minaj's best work.
Alongside this refinement of her musical talents, also came a refocusing of her wardrobe. Ditched were the cartoon colours and teetering headgear in favour of more classic fare. In tandem with the grown-up clothes, Minaj, now 33, was announced as the new face of Roberto Cavalli’s spring/summer 2015 campaign.
The past three years have also seen Minaj spread beyond the world of rap, launching her own clothing, accessories and housewares line for the American retailer Kmart, introducing her Pink Pill speakers for Beats, launching two new fragrances, and investing as a co-owner in Jay-Z’s controversial streaming service Tidal.
Perhaps the most concrete proof of Minaj's enduring place in pop culture is her recent moves into the realm of screen. In 2013 her face became significantly more visible after sitting as guest judge for a season of American Idol. A year later she was called on to play a supporting role, alongside Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton, in The Other Woman.
Next month she will be back on the big screen, starring alongside Ice Cube in Barbershop: The Next Cut, the latest instalment in the comedy series.
If the last three years prove anything, it’s that Minaj is not going anywhere.
• Nicki Minaj performs at the Autism Rocks Arena on Friday. Tickets begin from Dh350 from www.dubai.platinumlist.net