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Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj at Assembly Hall

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Sometime after 9 o’clock on Tuesday night, the lights dimmed and darkness fell upon Assembly Hall. An operator’s voice echoed across the stadium, spitting out inaudible facts and dates of the business which she was conducting. When she announced that the subject would “be free as of November 4th, 2010” it became more obvious that we were hearing a prison recording and fans began to cheer. Pyrotechnics boomed (I screamed in surprise) and the stage backdrop lit up a 3 x 5 Hollywood Squares-esque wall of cubes. Half of the 15 booths were enclosed and covered by video screens, the other half were faceless and empty (except the two occupied by a drummer and DJ) and sporadically employed by dancers throughout the night.

Almost magically, Wayne appeared at the end of the catwalk and jumped head first into “I’m Going In”. Assembly Hall turned into a cloud of smoke as his fans fired up the joints they’d been holding on to for more than two hours. Early on, Weezy took a few minutes to welcome Indiana University to the I Am Still Music Tour. “There’s three important things you need to know about me,” he asserted. “One- I believe in God. Do you? Two- I ain’t shit without you.” The crowd roared. “And three… I ain’t shit… WITHOUT YOU.”

Any Lil Wayne enthusiast would have been pleased with the mix of songs chosen for the epically varied set. Fan favorite “A Milli” played after Wayne’s self-introduction. He then relocated to the upper level of the stage backdrop to sing “Right Above Us “from his latest I Am Not A Human Being- the pieced-together album that dropped while he was incarcerated. After shouts to everyone who opened and an audience introduction to DJ Four Five, the Weezy classic “Go DJ” was in order.

Next came a medley of snippets from the 2009 mixtape No Ceilings, highlighting the finest segments of “Swag Surf”, “Wasted”, and “Ice Cream”, followed by “Green & Yellow”- Wayne’s Greenbay Packers-inspired remix of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow”.

Having successfully fired up the crowd, Weezy was ready to show love to his Young Money family and share the spotlight. He performed a song with Lil Twist (“one of the youngest Cash Money Millionaires”), followed by a rousing and risqué presentation of Shanell’s “Hair Down My Back” with the Young Money R&B princess herself. Wayne performed one more song solo (“I’m Single”) after telling his audience he wasn’t concerned with anyone’s past. “That’s because- I’m your future,” he explained.

He exited (“I’ll be right back. I gotta go take off these clothes.”) and a mysterious, druid-like figure appeared on stage. Mellow, new age instrumentals played as the cloaked body slowly walked to the end of the catwalk. He sprinkled purple pixie dust and, as if said dusting initiated a chemical reaction, fog covered the stage and the unmistakable beat to “Roman’s Revenge” kicked in. Elated screams of joy filled Assemly Hall as the stage floor opened and Nicki Minaj elevated into view.

Her costume came as no surprise, not only because one should expect nothing less than stylish-meets-over-the-top from Minaj, but also because it’s impossible to pick up a magazine or check out a music blog without catching a glimpse of her rainbow tie-dye explosion getup for the I Am Still Music Tour. As the song approached the “These bitches calling me Manning, Eli” line, Minaj and her dancers garbed themselves in football helmets and shoulder pads in preparation for a theatrical snap simulation.

Next came “Did It On Em”, during which Minaj held a large, springy dildo in front of her groin as she sang “if I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on ‘em.” She also performed a snippet from “Bottoms Up”, the Trey Songz track on which she appears, both starting and finishing the song with ballerina twirls.

Minaj also spent a lot of time interacting with the audience as she learned the Hoosier “Hoo Dat?” chant (“How do you do it?” she asked, leaning over the stage into the crowd) and then announced that someone was about to get a lap dance. Audience enthusiasm favored a girl-on-girl dance over a traditional girl-on-guy dance and Minaj brought one lucky front row female to the stage. But after she answered that she was from St. Louis and the Bloomington audience booed her, Minaj (wanting to keep her fans happy) brought an Indiana girl from Ft. Wayne on stage instead. Minaj apologized to the original lap-dance recipient and asked her to step down. Heartbreaking as this was, it was even more distressing when the lucky Ft. Wayne girl flubbed her five minutes of fame by lamely responding, “Gosh, I don’t even know,” when Minaj asked her what she’d do if she had one night alone with Lil Wayne.

After the lap dance that made every person in attendance green with envy, Minaj continued to perform from Pink Friday, tying a long, white tutu dress around her waist to sing “Fly”. Additional selections included “Super Bass” (which ended with slight microphone difficulties) and “Moment 4 Life”.

Weezy returned for another 40 minutes of music that again alternated between old and new material, finally busting out his guitar and including a short stint of songs from his rock album Rebirth. He announced that Tha Carter IV will drop on May 16th, after which he immediately reiterated, “Now I’ve only got one question: when is Tha Carter IV coming out?!”

Nearing the end of the night, he exited for a final wardrobe change and reentered wearing a shiny red Indiana jacket that floor-seat fans bestowed upon him earlier in the night. With dreadlocks untied and flowing freely, he left Indiana University students craving more new material as he closed with “6 Foot, 7 Foot”. He then recited a verse a cappella that demonstrated his deep love and appreciation for his fans and finished by reemphasizing the three points he opened with: “One- I believe in God. Two- I ain’t shit without you. And three… I ain’t shit… WITHOUT YOU.”

Danielle covers local music for NUVO.net and IndyMojo.com.

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