Drake's Young Money cohort Nicki Minaj and his October's Very Own crew came out from backstage and wished the rapper a happy birthday; Nicki planted a birthday smooch on Drake's cheek. And while he appeared humbled by the toast, the MC was clearly itching to get back to entertaining the capacity crowd. He quickly launched into the booming "Say Something," crooning and rapping the number to the women in the stands of the Wachovia Center.
"This sh-- was all I knew, you and me only," he sang. "I did it all for you, still you were lonely/ We could have worked it out, but I get things change/ It's funny how someone's success brings pain/ When you're no longer involved/ That person has it all/ And you just stuck standing there, but ... ." Before Drake could get the lyrics out, the crowd gleefully jumped in to finish the chorus.
The other headliner on the bill, Nicki Minaj tore through a flurry of songs she's made guest appearances on, including the Young Money collabo "Roger That" and her blitz on Usher's "Lil Freak." Decked out in a blazer with shoulder pads that could shield a football player from a crushing blow, the Queens lyricist commandeered the stage on the horn-blaring "Roger That."
Her pink wig remained perfectly in place as the animated femcee's facial expressions changed as often the time ticked.
"I'm in the collared green 6, cornbred in the guts," she rapped. "Got the Halloween kicks trick-or-treating the clutch."
For "Check It Out," she passed the microphone to a male fan in the audience who picked up her lyrics while she and a female fan danced in time onstage, mimicking the mirror wave she showed off during her 2010 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show performance. After "Your Love," Nicki told her DJ to "play something Philly will like while I look for 10 boobs to sign." She then descended into the audience and a few close calls were captured on the arena's gigantic screen as Nicki Minaj put pen to flesh.
Rick Ross also incited a raucous ovation; the Miami don heated up his set instantly with opening numbers "MC Hammer" and "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)." Ross brought out Philly's own Freeway and the former Roc-A-Fella gunner delivered a rousing rendition of "What We Do."
Cali Swag District also performed, while Ne-Yo, Lloyd and Bobby V helped to keep things smooth as the three singers on the lineup.
T.I. protégé Meek Mill tore the house down with a prime-time performance. "I said Rose sipper, wrist all glitter, them h--s wouldn't mention y'all n----s on Twitter," he rapped during his breakout number "Rose Red." The Philadelphia upstart made his hometown proud.
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