Nicki Minaj is en route to Gag City, aka back on the road for her first tour in five years. Her Pink Friday 2 World Tour kicked off at the beginning of the month in support of the highly anticipated sequel to her debut album, Pink Friday, and the Queen of Rap returned to grace her Seattle subjects for the first time since 2012.

Amidst a number of controversies, we can all agree that it’s a strange time for Minaj to go on tour. However, we went in open-minded—ready to play in the hip-hop Barbie’s dreamhouse.

Sunday’s show was kind of a hot mess, but ultimately a good time; kind of like Minaj’s prolific career itself. The third stop of Minaj’s biggest tour yet was mired by pacing issues, the star’s visible frustration with her production team, and other unknowns. Here are our thoughts from the night.

Audrey Vann, music calendar editor: Well, I regretted not bringing my knitting to the concert because there were so many pauses between songs. I could’ve finished an entire scarf.

Janey Wong, EverOut managing editor: I was so tired from Daylight Saving/coming up from Portland that I took micro naps during the breaks. Speaking of concert SNAFUs, how many people do we think got fired on Sunday?!

AV: That hairstylist trying to touch Nicki up before her “Monster” verse, certainly. Did you see Nicki push her? My sister thought it was a skit.

JW: I couldn’t see it from my vantage point, so I had no idea until a friend sent me this TikTok. Tbh, I’m not as up in arms as I’ve seen some people be. It’s been well-documented that Queen Bey can also get snippy when production isn’t running to her exacting standards. This hairstylist missed their mark and it looked to me like Nicki was turning her around and sending her off stage rather than pushing her.

AV: Totally, that’s a good point. Even though the show was a bit of a mess, I still feel defensive of Nicki. The standard for female performers is too high. We should let women be mediocre and rude. I honestly thought it was kind of iconic that she read her lyrics off of a teleprompter.

JW: Omg, the prompter! Aside from glancing at the setlist beforehand, the only thing I knew going into the show was that Nicki had been using one, and poorly at that. I guess when your tracks are so lyrically dense, your setlist is 30-plus songs, and you’re running on the adrenaline of performing, that’s a recipe for forgetting lyrics… god, it sounds like I’m a Nicki apologist. 

AV: She does have a lot of songs. But also, I kind of felt like if the majority of the crowd knew every word, then surely she could try to memorize them. Where do you fall on the Barb scale? I would say I’m a critical fan. She’s disappointed me a lot over the years, yet I come crawling back. It’s not something I’m proud of.

JW: Same… longtime fan, but not a Barb by any means. I’d say I know more Nicki lore than her average listener but standom—towards any artist—just isn’t for me.

AV: Did you feel guilty about attending the concert? I was a little afraid that going to the show could come across as condoning her behavior or taking her side in the Megan Thee Stallion feud (stream “HISS!”) Ultimately, I thought it’d be an interesting show and I do love her music.

JW: This is an interesting question. A few things: I wasn’t following hers and Megan’s most recent beef in real-time, so it wasn’t top of mind for me how problematic Nicki has been lately. She for sure took things too far there (C’mon, you don’t come for someone’s deceased parent! And she straight up embarrassed herself with “Big Foot.”) She seems to keep her very yikes relationship on the low for the most part, so on some level, she knows it’s wrong? Or at least her publicist has told her it’s a bad look. 

But to your larger point, where we draw the line at overlooking someone’s bad behavior because their talent eclipses it is something I think about a lot. She’s been problematic from the jump: her appropriation of East Asian aesthetics, naming an alter ego (Roman Zolanski) after a convicted rapist, the list goes on.

AV: The conversation about Nicki’s marriage and family (her brother and husband are both convicted sex offenders) can’t be ignored, either. I am not so sure that Nicki should be accountable for the behavior of men in her life. However, I think she should be held accountable for the things she’s said in their defense, her general discounting of SA survivors, and her other problematic behavior. 

What did you think of Tyga and Monica? I thought it was an interesting tactic to have them come out in the middle. I think an “intermission” or “halftime show” isn’t a bad idea for an arena concert.

JW: I wasn’t mad at this format at all! Monica came on and was basically like, “Here’s how you sing live.” And I had no idea Tyga had showed up at the Vegas concert so I was gagged by that. The only thing that would’ve made it better is if Nicki also did her “Bedrock” verse. What a waste.

AV: Agreed! When he came out, I was like, “That’s not actually Tyga, right?” I was so confused. I wish they would’ve announced him before he came out. I saw people around me leaving because they thought the show was over.

JW: Yeah, I’m sure there were a good number of people that a) had no idea what was going on or b) hated this part. 

AV: Did you hear any comments or complaints from the crowd? The Barbz seated around me were loving every second—I did not hear a single complaint. 

JW: The group behind me complained when she took forever to come back on after the special guests. Which is super valid; it was a Sunday night and she had a good 35-minute break to reset!! That concert was one of the latest I’ve ever been to… we got outta there at like 1:30 am. 

What was the highlight of the show for you? 

AV: When Nicki came back out after Monica and Tyga, I thought she was incredible. When she’s on, she’s on. It was so much fun to hear her perform “Anaconda.” That’s one of my favorites. The music video always makes me cry for some reason. She was so incredibly captivating and powerful during those last few songs.

JW: Yes, she seemed to hit her stride in the last act. 

AV: What was the highlight for you?

JW: Aside from “Anaconda,” I do not particularly care for Nicki’s radio singles. (I think some of her strongest work is her guest verses.) So “Monster” was the track I was looking forward to most, and she delivered on that and “Roman’s Revenge,” too. Off PF2, “Cowgirl” was so fun!! 

AV: Another high point for me was the pre-show DJ. He was a little cringy and gave me prom DJ vibes, but I loved seeing the sea of Barbz (90% of whom were dressed in pink) screaming the lyrics to TLC’s “No Scrubs” and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Nicki’s fans are very intimidating on the internet, but IRL, they were a delight.

JW: That part was unexpectedly fun—but it does say a lot that one of the show’s highlights was when Nicki wasn’t even on stage. 

All told, I think it’s fair to say this show was as polarizing as Nicki herself. She’s such a deft wordsmith and an all-around talented artist, I just wish that she could get it right and let her work speak for itself. She’s cemented herself as a queen in the rap game and the wider pop culture landscape, so we know her braggadocio isn’t all talk. As she exclaims in “Chun-Li,” “They need rappers like me.”