The performance, which took place on Friday night (July 1), was Minaj’s first in-person live performance in around three years. A portion of the set was dedicated to a medley of Minaj’s early guest verses that originally saw the rise in her profile – including Young Money’s ‘Bedrock’ and Drake‘s ‘Make Me Proud’. When her verse from West’s 2010 single ‘Monster’ was queued up, however, Minaj cut it short.
“We don’t fuck with clowns,” she said following the DJ stopping the song, grinning at the audience. Minaj immediately changed subjects, saying that she wanted to “give a shout-out to New Orleans” instead of performing the song. This was followed by a performance of her verse on Birdman’s ‘YU MAD’, per Setlist.FM.
Consequence of Sound has speculated that Minaj could potentially have been referencing West’s appearance on Cardi B‘s new single ‘Hot Shit’, which was released the same day as Minaj’s performance. Minaj and Cardi have a long-standing rivalry, stemming from an incident surrounding Migos‘ single ‘Motorsport’ in 2017.
View footage from the moment below:
The Barbz are not happy with Essence Fest, and apparently, Nicki Minaj isn’t happy with her longtime friend and collaborator, Kanye West.
— lovelyti (@lovelyti) July 2, 2022
Although West and Minaj have not collaborated for several years, the pair worked frequently together in the early 2010s. Alongside her appearance on ‘Monster’, Minaj also provided the spoken-word introduction to ‘Dark Fantasy’, the opening song on West’s 2010 album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. The following year, West returned the favour by appearing on Minaj’s debut album ‘Pink Friday’, providing a verse on the track ‘Blazin’.
West has not publicly responded to Minaj’s comments following the performance.