Here’s a brief timeline of status updates on Nicki Minaj’s tour:
- June 2018 – NickiHndrxx Tour announced. Co-headliner with Future. 28 North American cities, Sep – Nov 2018. 22 European cities, Feb – Mar 2019.
- August 2018 – North American leg postponed till May 2019. Media outlets claimed it was due to poor ticket sales. Nicki implied that the media was dumb and said that she needed time to rehearse.
- Dec 2019 – Juice Wrld replaced Future on the European leg. Now titled “The Nicki Wrld Tour.” No update on North American leg.
- April 2019 – Nicki and Chris Brown joint tour announced. Initially announced for the fall. CB confirms tour on Instagram. (This same month, Nicki parted ways with the management team she’s been with for most of her career)
- May 2019 – No update. Her website still says May 2019!
- June 2019 – Chris Brown announced tour lineup without Nicki Minaj listed. Nicki’s team says that she never signed on for the tour. Her and Brown discussed it, but she decided it wasn’t for her.
The further we get from Queen—her album that dropped 10 months ago—the less likely it is that this tour will ever happen. We can spend time dissecting each scheduling update (or the ridiculous idea to pair her with Chris Brown) but let’s take a step back.
Nicki is in a challenging stage of her career. Her peak popularity is several years in the rear-view mirror, but she doesn’t seem ready to admit it. This can be especially tough to acknowledge when Drake, who grew up with her in the Young Money cohort, is still at his peak. Her run reminds me of Carmelo Anthony. When his counterpart LeBron James was still competing at an elite level, Melo laughed at reporters who asked if he would come off the bench.
Every A-list artist eventually goes through this. Nicki has developed a chip on her shoulder to push through. Between this, the Cardi B drama, and last year’s Billboard charts drama with Travis Scott, the “Starships” singer likely felt compelled to build up a tough armor. She knew the media wouldn’t do it for her.
Some of the backlash she’s faced is self-inflicted. No one forced her to use Queen Radio as her personal takedown channel. But a fair amount of it stems from sexism in hip-hop. The media often pits women in hip-hop against each other. In today’s age, a lack of endorsement is seen as a diss. You honestly hate to see it.
This North American tour keeps getting postponed because it’s an objective indicator of Nicki’s relevancy. To book a profitable tour, artists need to predict capacity with their mind, not their heart or ego. For an artist like Nicki, that means choosing smaller venues with 5,000 – 10,000 attendees instead of the 20,000 capacity arenas that her and Future tried to sell last year.
In a practical sense, Nicki should not be ashamed. She’s one of the highest-selling rappers ever and should be mentioned in any list that mentions the top artists of the 2010s. But no one stays on top forever. Everyone’s time comes, but it’s sooner than most artists think.