After a bumpy rollout including several delays, Nicki Minaj’s Queen finally arrived just over a week ago. Since then, things haven’t been all that much better. Queen turned out to be underwhelming, with our own Tom Breihan writing: “The summer of 2018 has given us way too many albums from rap A-listers who are increasingly and depressingly getting further away from what everyone loved about them in the first place. With Queen, Nicki Minaj joins that sad parade.” A whole lot of Minaj fans didn’t care about lukewarm reviews, catapulting Queen to #2 on the Billboard 200 charts. However, it still wasn’t enough to get Minaj her coveted #1 debut.
Nicki clearly wanted Queen to arrive at the top of the charts very, very badly. And for good reason: If Queen had done so, it would’ve made Nicki Minaj the first-ever female rap artist with three #1 albums. As the week went on, there was certainly some maneuvering to help make that a reality. On Wednesday, they added “Fefe” — her recent hit single with the controversial SoundCloud rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine — to the Queen tracklist in an act of gaming the system specific to the streaming era. (Artists can pass these off as creative decisions, but it’s pretty transparent, especially when you consider “Fefe” was originally billed as a 6ix9ine song with a Nicki feature.) This was in addition to various merchandise bundles through Minaj’s official online shop, including one that entailed a 48-hour discount to purchase Queen for only $5.
Ahead of Queen’s release, the projections were that it would be neck and beck with Travis Scott’s Astroworld. And while Minaj’s camp pulled out the stops to try and beat Astroworld, it didn’t pan out. Astroworld, the album that finally dethroned Scorpion from #1, celebrated a second week in the top slot.
This did not sit well with Minaj, who unleashed a string of tweets that alternated between thanking her fans for their support and criticizing the methods through which Scott has promoted Astroworld. (Her grievances include the prospect that Kylie Jenner hyping up Astroworld tour bundles would’ve helped Scott’s cause.) “I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week,” Minaj said.
Scott wasn’t the only entity Minaj blamed for Queen failing to hit #1. She also took issue with Spotify, angered that they put Drake’s face on every playlist and, as she claims, cancelled planned promotion for Queen after she played some music early. Read her full comments below.
Travis Scott, meanwhile, was having such a good week that he was just out here handing people money.