Nicki Minaj makes "sabotage" claims after Netherlands arrest for drug possession

Amsterdam, Netherlands - A concert by rapper Nicki Minaj in Britain was called off at the last minute Saturday night, after the superstar was detained at Amsterdam's main airport on suspicion of possessing soft drugs in an incident she partly live-streamed on social media.

A Nicki Minaj concert in Manchester, UK, was canceled after she was detained on suspicion of drug possession in the Netherlands.
A Nicki Minaj concert in Manchester, UK, was canceled after she was detained on suspicion of drug possession in the Netherlands.  © Jason Koerner / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The artist was due to perform in Manchester on Saturday, but posted on social media platform X that authorities "said they found weed" in her luggage before briefly taking her into custody.

Minaj said the "pre-rolls" belonged to her security guard and that her bags had been searched "without consent."

Police confirmed to AFP that they had detained a 41-year-old American woman on suspicion of trying to export soft drugs to another country but declined to say directly that it was Minaj, as per their usual policy.

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Military police spokesperson Robert Kapel later told AFP that the suspect had been released after the payment of a "reasonable" fine.

The rapper apologized on X to fans for missing the concert, but said she would be back for a second Manchester show on May 30 and that she would be performing in Birmingham on Sunday as part of her Pink Friday 2 World Tour.

"I'll find a way to not only make up the date with the performance but I'm going to create an added bonus for everyone that had a tkt (ticket) for this show. Promise," she wrote.

Manchester's Co-op Live arena, where Saturday's show was supposed to take place, said in a statement that tickets would remain valid for a new concert date to be announced soon.

"Free Nicki Minaj"

Fans leave the Manchester Co-op Live venue after the Nicki Minaj show was canceled.
Fans leave the Manchester Co-op Live venue after the Nicki Minaj show was canceled.  © REUTERS

Thousands of fans had been allowed into the venue on Saturday before the show was called off.

Videos posted to social media showed a packed arena, long queues of concertgoers, and supporters chanting "Free Nicki Minaj" in solidarity with the detained superstar.

The hashtag #FREENICKI also trended on X.

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A common misconception outside the Netherlands is that cannabis is legal in the country, home to world-famous coffee shops (which often sell weed) that are a huge draw for many tourists.

The consumption of small quantities of cannabis is technically illegal, but police choose not to enforce the law as part of a "tolerance" policy in place since the 1970s.

Transporting drugs to another country is illegal.

Nicki Minaj makes "sabotage" claims

Nicki Minaj poses at the 2024 Met Gala in New York City.
Nicki Minaj poses at the 2024 Met Gala in New York City.  © REUTERS

Minaj suggested in a series of social media posts that the arrest in Amsterdam was part of a plot to sabotage her tour.

"So they succeeded at their plan to not let me get on that stage tonight," she wrote on X.

"They've been trying to stop me from coming to every show," she said in an Instagram post that did not specify who was attempting to thwart her.

"This is what it looks like when ppl (people) are paid big money to try to sabotage a tour after all else failed."

Minaj's profanity-laced lyrics, skin-baring videos and unique, animated flow catapulted her to fame in 2010.

Known for a bold sartorial style that includes neon costumes and wigs, Minaj – whose hits include Starships, Bang Bang, and Anaconda – is considered one of rap's most influential female artists.

Her brash personality and penchant for controversy have also made her a tabloid fixture, including over a 2018 incident in which rap rival Cardi B threw a shoe at Minaj and allegedly attempted to fight her.

The rapper also hit the headlines during the Covid-19 pandemic after skipping New York's star-studded Met Gala because of its requirement that attendees be vaccinated.

She said she would get the jab only once she had "done enough research."

She said a friend of a cousin in Trinidad had experienced swollen testicles after getting the vaccine – claims that sparked a formal rebuttal from the Caribbean nation's health minister.

Cover photo: Collage: JASON KOERNER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP & REUTERS

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