Last night, on July 1, 75,000 fans flooded the New Orleans Caesars Superdome for Nicki Minaj’s headlining performance at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture. The weekend of events celebrating black culture, music, and artists was the return of the quintessential festival after an extensive two-year hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alongside Nicki’s appearance, Grammy Award winning rapper Nas, Lauryn Hill, Ashanti, Beenie Man, country star Mickey Guyton and more also graced the stage for the first night of musical performances at the festival.
The rapper’s set included her most iconic chart-topping hits including, “Moment 4 Life,” “Monster,” “Super Bass,” and more. Fans were in for the surprise of their lives, however, when Nicki brought out Cash Money Records founder and rapper Birdman to join her on stage. And the surprises didn’t stop there, Grammy Award winning New Orleans native, Lil Wayne lit up the stage on with electric performances of “Seeing Green,” “High School,” and “Truffle Butter.”
Now in its 27th year, the Essence Festival is the nation’s largest festival by daily attendance, according to organizers. In a statement earlier this year, Essence CEO Caroline Wanga called the weekend-long event “a staple that celebrates community and empowers equity.”
Wanga also spoke to the ties between the festival and The Big Easy: “our almost three-decade relationship with the City of New Orleans has been critical to the fiber of the Festival and we fully recognize and appreciate the City and its citizens for all they do to create memorable experiences for all attendees.
She continued, “Lastly, it is critical that we understand that what we deliver with this Festival—live and virtually—also impacts Black economic inclusion. The ability to have those that benefit from this be Black businesses is my favorite manifestation of our 2022 Festival theme, ‘It’s The Black Joy for Me.’”
In addition to the afore-mentioned performances, Essence Festival continues for the entirety of July Fourth Weekend with a star-studded lineup of headliners, including Janet Jackson, Ghostface Killah, Wizkid, New Edition, and many more.