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Nicki Minaj performs on 'Saturday Night Live' 19/05/2018
Saturday Night Live/YouTube

Watch Nicki Minaj perform her new songs on Saturday Night Live

The rapper performed "Chun-Li" and "Poke It Out" on the SNL series finale

Nicki Minaj is back on our radar, just in time for summer. After dropping a handful of singles from her upcoming album, Queen, including "Chun-Li," "Poke It Out," and "Barbie Tingz," onto the internet in April, Minaj is now following that buzz with two show-stopping performances on Saturday Night Live.

Minaj performed her single "Chun-Li," and later, "Poke It Out" with Playboi Carti, and even starred in the SNL sketch "Friendship Song" with regulars Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, and Cecily Strong and the evening's host, Tina Fey. The sketch was unfortunately cut for time but featured Minaj rapping about how ferociously she'd defend her friends from other mean girls. 

Fans were loving the performances — with comments ranging from a simple "QUEEN" to comments like "Nicki killed it tonight" — but amidst the hype, there were criticisms that Minaj's use of Asian imagery and costuming for her "Chun-Li" performance amounted to cultural appropriation. One Twitter commenter, Mieke Eoyang, wrote a lengthy thread that added some nuance to the conversation from her own point of view as a Chinese-American.

After pointing out that Chun-Li is a videogame character that folks of all races choose to cosplay, pointing out that Minaj is using Chun-Li as a metaphor, and reminding us that Minaj is part-Asian, Eoyang concludes: "So, I do not read @NICKIMINAJ's portrayal of Chun-Li as 'appropriation' but as an embrace of a strong female character, both transcendent of race, but also as a nod to the long cultural connections between the African American & Asian communities."

During the 2018 Met Gala, Minaj confirmed that Queen (her first album in four years) is coming out on 15 June. Watch her SNL performances below.