'WINE LIKE A TRINI': Holding a Trinidad and Tobago rag, hip-hop star Nicki Minaj gets close to her fans during her performance on Saturday night at the launch of "Localize Itt" at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Hip-hop star thrills thousands at show

By Nigel Telesford 

"Go to school and stay in school. Ladies, don't depend on a man for anything. Get your own!"

These were the parting words of advice from Trinidad-born hip-hop star Onika "Nicki Minaj" Maraj to her young fans as she exited the stage at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo after a 40-minute performance headlining the "Localize Itt" concert on Saturday night.

Originally from St James, Maraj delivered an energetic set comprised of her most popular features as well as the two lead singles from her forthcoming album, Pink Friday, and was well-received by the 3,000-strong audience present.

Outfitted with a blonde wig and a Barbie doll-esque dress with red leggings below, the 25-year-old spent an extra 20 minutes on stage interacting with the crowd after she had already performed all of her material.

Popular soca and dancehall tracks played in the background as the tiny star threw out T-shirts, "signed boobs" and called out different areas of the country. She thanked all her fans and "the kids" especially for attending and said she hoped to return for Carnival 2011.

She said: "This is the most emotional show I've ever had to do. I don't even know how I'm holding up. It's been a long time coming back here and you guys have treated me so beautifully, I really couldn't ask for anything more.

"So, I am gonna come back for Carnival. I'm almost positive, I'm not positive yet! I've never been to Trinidad Carnival but you guys have really welcomed me with open arms. I love you. I'm proud of where I'm from. Be good, be safe, God bless you all. Get home safely."

Maraj and her hype-man Safaree Samuels thrilled the audience with their onstage antics and after she admitted she did not know how to wine, the Young Money-artist invited several patrons onstage "to show her how to wine like a Trini".

Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Anil Roberts, took the stage immediately after Maraj's set ended and thanked both the star and those assembled for attending. He implored the masses to continue to support local artistes and products and invited them to stay for the rest of the concert.

In an interesting change from the norm, Maraj was not the final performer of the night and was followed by Maximus Dan, the Millionaire Family and Road March champions JW and Blaze.

D Project Records artistes Judah, Nebula 868, Terri Lyons and 3Suns opened the official performance segment of the show, along with local dancehall star Squeezy Rankin.

The local acts gave spirited performances complete with dancers, choreographed routines and visual aesthetics and were all well-received.

The concert began promptly at 8.30 p.m. and ended just after midnight. Several patrons expressed satisfaction and claimed to have "gotten their money's worth", and most children present were overjoyed to have been seen Minaj on home soil.

However, some parents expressed concerns about the high sexual content contained in certain songs performed on the night and several eyebrows were raised when Minaj used a few expletives during her set.

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