Review: Megan Thee Stallion didn't rap much, but she sure twerked at Target Center

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With videos of towering flames on giant screens and real live flamethrowers onstage, rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion came out on fire Tuesday night at jam-packed Target Center in Minneapolis.

What else would you expect for the kickoff of the Hot Girl Summer Tour?

Well, it was a high energy, sex-positive and bootylicious performance that delighted 15,000 fans. But would we have expected more live rapping from a blockbuster, Grammy-winning MC?

For much of opening night of her first headline tour, Megan seemed to let her records play at maximum volume and rap over them when she wanted to. At least she wasn't lip syncing. Moreover, the Hotties, as her fans are known, were rapping along, and Megan was twerking in high gear. And when eight female dancers joined Megan for some ensemble twerking during "Body," the reaction crescendoed.

Even if there wasn't an abundance of her machine-gun flow live, the Houston rapper brought a fierceness and fearlessness to the stage. That's the thing about Megan, she exudes relentless bravado and contagious confidence.

She's so confident that she put tickets on sale for her inaugural arena headline tour a mere seven weeks ago and filled Target Center whereas hip-hop queen Nicki Minaj, like other stars, opened the box office five months before show time.

Megan hit the road even though she has not issued her upcoming third album. She hasn't even announced a title or release date, but she's been dropping singles with the frequency of an artist running her own record label. "Hiss" on Hot Girl Productions went to No. 1 earlier this year, then she teamed with rapper GloRilla for "Wanna Be" and her latest, "BOA," emerged on Friday. All three of those numbers were on the set list in Tuesday's 95-minute concert.

While Minaj's production last month at Target Center was more colorful, playful and ambitious, Megan had nifty touches, performing at the end of the arena on a round stage surrounded by a semi-circular catwalk (with about 150 Hotties in an exclusive pit). For "Plan B," she emerged from a glass cocoon and a butterfly fluttered on the video screen at her back. For "Cobra," a huge neon spiral coiled around her for an eerie effect. The stage setup made it easy for Megan to invite some fans onstage to dance with her for "Red Wine" and "Ride or Die."

There were a few opening night glitches, including not-the-best sound mix and Megan exiting the stage while her dancers grooved gymnastically to a Ying Yang Twins tune, but the star inexplicably didn't change costumes. (She wore three different outfits during the show.) Then, there was a problem with Megan's in-ear monitors late in the concert, so two staffers had to join her onstage to untangle the wires. "Don't pull my weave!" she cautioned her helpers.

Despite releasing only two full length studio albums thus far, Megan Jovon Ruth Pete, 29, has built an impressive resume since 2019. She collected three Grammys, including best new artist in 2021 (only the second rapper to capture that prize). She's scored three No. 1 pop hits — "Savage" with Beyoncé, "WAP" with Cardi B and her own "Hiss" this year. In 2022, she performed on the Academy Awards and hosted "Saturday Night Live" (she popped up there again in January). She appeared in the movies "Dicks: The Musical" and "Mean Girls" and published an op-ed commentary in the New York Times in 2020 about not disrespecting and disregarding Black women after she was shot in the foot by a fellow musician (who was later convicted).

When it comes to lyrics, Megan's are more explicit than Stormy Daniels' recent courtroom testimony, with the rapper's bars peppered with sexual frankness and words not printed in a family newspaper. Nonetheless, there is a cleverness and usually a catchy hook as well as a beat that insists you dance, which the crowd did at Target Center. Ultimately, though, there's an unmistakable message to the music.

In "Savage," Megan urged to be true to your core — in her case that would be "sassy, moody, nasty." "Plan B" was all about self-love. "Captain Hook" advised not to care about what others think of you.

Megan ended the evening with her own out-of-the-ordinary twist. After pink confetti rained over the cheering crowd, the star exited and the middle video screen at the back of the stage projected one word: "Done." Yes, with a period.