Nicki Minaj‘s Queen and Travis Scott‘s Astroworld were projected to be in a close race for Number One album, but it didn’t pan out that way. Scott’s album beat Minaj’s by 20,000 album-equivalent units, which, in chart-nerd parlance is not exactly “close.” And Minaj did not take kindly to the numbers.
“I put my blood sweat and tears in writing a dope album only for Travis Scott to have [his girlfriend] Kylie Jenner post a tour pass telling ppl to come see her & [her daughter] Stormi,” Minaj wrote. “I’m actually laughing. #Queen broke the record of being number 1 in 86 countries.”
Minaj also decried Scott’s use of bundling, which is popular throughout the music industry: Copies of Astroworld were included with some purchases of merchandise and tickets for an upcoming tour. (According to Billboard chart rules, bundling sales only count if the purchaser actually follows through and obtains the free copy that comes with his or her ticket or item of merchandise.) “I spoke to [Scott],” Minaj asserted. “He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week.”
It’s notable that the Queen rapper also used similar promotional tools to boost her own sales. Listeners who purchased a ticket for the rapper’s upcoming tour with Future were entitled to a copy of Queen and a currently untitled upcoming release from Future as well, according to Hits Daily Double. Last Tuesday night, Minaj also added the 6ix9ine collaboration “Fefe” to her album, presumably in an attempt to increase the LP’s total number of streams, which translates into album-equivalent units on the Billboard 200.
After criticizing Scott’s campaign, Minaj turned her attention to Spotify, alleging that the streaming service punished her for debuting her album on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio before it arrived on Spotify at Noon. When she first played the album on Beats 1, Minaj unveiled two tracks before informing the audience that she “had to stall.” She proceeded to freestyle on the air until the clock hit noon, when she resumed playing Queen as planned.
Minaj’s tweets hinted at a possible reason behind her decision to stall. “Spotify put Drake’s face on every playlist but told me they’d have to teach me a lesson for playing my music 10 mins early on #QueenRadio,” she wrote. “… Spotify had to teach me a lesson but rewarded the man who has had an Apple radio show the longest; inadvertently helping the Apple platform the most … They took away my promotion they had promised for the 1st cpl days b/c of this.”
Spotify issued a statement to Variety but did not respond directly to Minaj’s accusations. “Spotify supported Nicki Minaj with a Times Square billboard, a host of the largest playlists, New Music Friday and the new music release shelf,” a representative for the streaming service said. “Her song ‘Bed’ actually saw an increase based on the promotions put behind the campaign. The company continues to be big fans of Nicki.”
Minaj linked her own struggle with a sexist music industry to the struggle of women around the world. “Do you know how many women get systematically blackballed out of their positions in an office building & can’t fight back?” she wrote. But after stirring the pot, she backed away, writing that her tweets were “sarcasm/dry humor.”
Or maybe not? “I can’t wait for [the next] #QueenRadio,” Minaj added. “I bit my tongue last #QueenRadio but I won’t on Tuesday.”