Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill returned to his hometown market on Thursday night at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. He was the opening act on the Pinkprint Tour, named after the 2014 album by Nicki Minaj, the Trinidad-born rhymer who is the foremost female emcee in rap, as well as his girlfriend.

Mill had been having a great summer, with his strong second album Dreams Worth More Than Money taking the top spot on the Billboard chart upon its release. But then he got embroiled in a rap feud with Canadian rapper Drake, whom he has accused of not writing his own rhymes.

Internet judges have largely ruled that Mill has been the loser in the battle, largely because of the barbs Drake aimed at him in a diss track called "Back to Back," in which Drake impugned the Philadelphian's manhood by rhyming, "Is that a world tour, or your girl's tour?"

At the Susq, Mill came out swinging. Following raucously rhythmic Tupelo, Miss., brother rap duo Rae Sremmurd - "Drummer's ear" spelled backward - the rapper born Robert Rahmeek Williams took the stage wearing a throwback Julius Erving jersey and Sixers cap. After opening with Dreams' "Lord Knows," in which he counts the months he spent in jail in 2014 on parole violation as a blessing ("Shout out to the judge that denied me bail/ it made me smarter, made me go harder"), he started in on Drake.

"I represent the n----- who started from the bottom," he proclaimed, with contempt for the middle-class Canadian rapper who bragged about his ascent to the top in his 2013 hit "Started From the Bottom." He went on to hurl a number of insults at his rival. "He called him the p-word," was how the female Mill fan seated in front of this reviewer heard one garbled shout.

In one segment, Meek rapped while facing a screen showing a picture of his late father, who was murdered in North Philly when he was five. Throughout his set, Mill stayed on the attack, letting it be known he's reading comments on Twitter and Instagram during his Internet feud with Drake. "I get aggressive," he said, "when I see [people] from my own city getting negative." He didn't unveil any clever new lines of attack, but he didn't give an inch, either.

After Mill finished off with "Dreams and Nightmares," the powerful title cut from his 2012 debut album, Minaj followed him on stage after a short break, sending the sizable but not sold-out interracial - and about two-thirds female - crowd into paroxysms of glee.

Starting off slow with quiet, contemplative Pinkprint songs like "All Things Go" and "The Crying Game," the quick-tongued, technically adept singer signaled her support for her paramour by letting a camera pan over an outsize diamond ring on her finger as she emerged in the first of many two-piece ensembles worn throughout her close-to-two-hour set.

Backed by a live drummer, keyboard player, and a DJ programmer, Minaj's set - marred by poor sound at the start - was an an all-over-the-place display of her prodigious verbal skills in a variety of settings. There were sexed-up twerk raps ("Anaconda"), big-chorus pop hits of her own ("Superbass"), tunes on which she has guested (Beyoncé's "Flawless"; Jessie J's "Bang Bang"), and take-no-prisoners battle raps ("Did It On 'Em") .

It was a crowd-pleasing evening, with the women in the crowd in particular rapping along word for word. All night long, the charmingly profane star of the show name-dropped Wawa, reminisced about her early mixtape days playing clubs in Philadelphia, and even gave a pro-education pep talk to her young female fans. "I stress staying in school," she said. "Because when you have a career [no one can] tell you a [expletive] thing!"

Before the finale, when confetti fell from the sky during the closing confection "Starships," Minaj brought Mill out for an encore of "Bad For You" and "All Eyes On You," their two tepid duets from Dreams Worth More than Money. Musical fireworks did not ensue, but the two lovebirds couldn't keep from flirting in front of their fans before finally giving up on the small talk and locking lips on a deep soul kiss.

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@delucadan

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