Nicki Minaj has had quite the rollout for her latest studio album Queen. While many artists would revel in having four LPs tucked under their belt, the New York resident appears to be less than amused regarding its reception and sales.
Post-release, Minaj became quite the headline after engaging in multiple spats over the drop. In her online escapades, the rapper called out the likes of Spotify, Billboard, and rapper Travis Scott for the album’s stilted sales, later alleging that additional parties had been paid to poorly review the record.
While these claims have yet to be proven, a dark cloud remains over the album’s release and as such, we’ve broken a down a timeline of Nicki Minaj’s Queen drama to date.
Read in full below.
Chapter 1. Nicki announces June 15, 2018 release date at the Met Gala
On May 7, Nicki Minaj attended the 2018 Met Gala. While speaking to reporters about her outfit for the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” theme, Minaj exclaimed the event was a “big night” as she had just confirmed her next album, Queen, would arrive on June 15.
Chapter 2. Nicki pushes the album back to August 10, 2018
On May 24, Minaj followed up on her Met Gala announcement with a tweet, writing, “8|10|18 #Queen.” Without any prior warning or explanation, Queen had been pushed back to August 10, 2018.
At the time, one user speculated that Drake was the cause of the postponement, arguing that Minaj’s label, Young Money, wished to avoid a double-release with the fellow YMCMB signee. Drake’s fifth studio album, Scorpion, would arrive two weeks after Nicki’s original release date, on June 29.
Chapter 3. Nicki alludes to dating Eminem
On May 25, Minaj took to Instagram to promote the single “Big Bank” by YG, on which she guest featured alongside Big Sean, and 2 Chainz. During her verse, Minaj raps: “Uh oh/Back again/Back to back Maybach, stack the M’s/Told em’ I met Slim Shady, bag the M/Once he go black, he’ll be back again.”
A portion of this verse also appeared on her Instagram caption, leading many listeners to believe Minaj had confirmed a relationship between her and Eminem. When asked if the dating rumors were true, Minaj simply replied, “yes.”
Chapter 4. Nicki denies dating Eminem
On May 28 during his set at Boston Calling, Eminem added further fuel to the fire in asking the crowd, “How many people in Boston want me to date, Nicki Minaj?” He later added, “Nicki if you get this message just text me later and we’ll talk about it.”
The moment was shared on Twitter to which Minaj responded in a humorous manner. “Em we need you on the #Queen album,” she wrote. “That’s where our first date will be; at the studio while I gaze into your beautiful eyes as you write your verse.”
Chapter 5. Nicki unveils NSFW album artwork by Mert Alas
On June 7, Minaj resumed her Queen promotions, sharing with fans the album’s risqué artwork. The image, shot by famed fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, depicted a scantily clad Minaj atop a tree bark wearing a bejeweled headpiece with matching skirt and necklace. “My greatest work to date,” she wrote in the caption. “Thank you for your patience & love.”
Chapter 6. Azealia Banks slams Nicki for working with 6ix9ine
On July 23, Azealia Banks called out Minaj via Instagram Stories for working with controversial rapper, 6ix9ine. Minaj notably linked up with the the 22-year-old on the song “FEFE.”
6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, had previously pled guilty to one felony count of use of a child in a sexual performance back in October 2015. Voicing her concerns, Banks wrote, “As a Queen of rap, you are responsible for protecting the rights, safety and well being of young women of color.” Later adding, “thou shall not associate with or lend your voice to known pedophiles.”
Banks later argued that Minaj was “desperate for chart success” and in working with the rapper, was sending her fans the message that “it’s ok for 18-year-old boys to fondle 13-year-old girls and get away with it.” Banks also claimed that “hip-hop is the only genre in modern times that normalized sexual assault and physical abuse against women.”
On July 11 TMZ reported, that Hernandez had also been arrested in New York for an outstanding warrant related to an incident where he allegedly choked a 16-year-old in Houston’s Galleria mall in January 2018. He would later make an appearance in court on July 16.
Chapter 7. Nicki hints at delaying the album again due to a sample clearance issue
On August 1, nine days before Queen’s release date, Minaj hints that the album might undergo another delay due to a Tracy Chapman sample clearance issue. In a twitter thread, Minaj claimed she was “unaware” that a song set to appear on the record had not already been cleared. “Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me,” she tweeted, in reference to the track. Shortly after, Minaj sent out another tweet, asking fans if she should “keep date/lose record” or “keep record/push date1 wk.”
Chapter 8. Nicki announces Queen Radio Beats 1 show
On August 9, Minaj announced on Instagram she would be hosting a Beats1 Music show titled Queen Radio, writing “Anything. Can. Happen. Tonight.” In the comments, fans suggested the rapper would premiere snippets of her album prior to its release
Chapter 9. Nicki drops the album
As planned, Nicki dropped Queen on August 10. Following suit, she later made an announcement via her Instagram. The album was first made available on Apple Music and later appeared on Spotify and other streaming services.
Chapter 10. Nicki calls out hip-hop on album track “Barbie Dreams”
On the same day of the release, eager fans were to quick to point out the song “Barbie Dreams” which sees Minaj take aim at some of rap’s notable figures. Drake, Meek Mill, Eminem, DJ Khaled, 50 Cent, Desiigner, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, YG and The Game were among those included.
Following an onslaught of criticisms, Minaj took to Twitter, stating the song “isn’t a diss” and was merely “light-hearted fun.” As per Genius, the song pays homage to Notorious B.I.G’s, “Just Playing (Dreams).”
Chapter 11. Nicki beefs with DJ Self on social media
On August 14, Minaj became involved in a heated exchange with Power 105.1’s DJ Self. The radio personality took to the air stating Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy was the best record from a female rapper in recent times.
Minaj later caught wind of his words, to which the producer wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post, “So you really mad who got the best female album out now talk to me.” Minaj later responded in a since-deleted tweet, writing, “He’s mad cuz I refused to give him a drop or a hug.”
Minaj also claimed that Self had spoken ill of Cardi B prior to praising her album on air. “He was just up there dissin the btch thinking that would make me fuk wit him. Lmao. Jokes on you once again dummy. Passed up on ya meal tkt now u get crumbs from her table. Ur a reality tv hoe. Used to be a respected DJ.”
Self later responded on Instagram with, “We only speak when she has a project dropping so by that i know what my relation is with her.” The post was also deleted.
Chapter 12. Nicki updates Queen with “FEFE” featuring 6ix9ine
On August 15, five days after Queen was released, Minaj updated the record to include her “FEFE” collaboration with 6ix9ine. Despite not being credited as the lead artist on the track, Minaj explained in an interview with Tidal, “Because of streaming, we can update the albums.”
The album’s tracklist was later updated on Tidal to reflect the change. “FEFE” was also added to Spotify and the ‘bonus version’ of Queen on Apple Music.
Chapter 13. Nicki says she’s being bullied for working with 6ix9ine
On August 18, the rapper claimed on Twitter that people were being “paid to write” negatively about her collaborationn with 6ix9ine. “I’m supposed to keep letting these ppl get money to bull me behind the scenes & not say anything,” she queried. Minaj later argued that these paid reviews came as a result of “still breaking records” with a “great body of work” four albums in.
Chapter 14. Nicki calls out Travis Scott and Spotify after the album debuts at number two
On August 19, Minaj penned an extensive Twitter thread in which she called out Billboard, Spotify and Travis Scott as the reason behind Queen debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 chart.
In it, Minaj explains how she poured her “blood, sweat & tears in writing a dope album” only for Scott (whose latest released Astroworld debuted at ahead of Minaj) to see successful sales through clothing bundles.
As part of his rollout, Scott offered a digital download of the record as part of his merchandise packages. Each bundle counted towards an album sale, which Minaj claims was corroborated by Billboard: “I spoke to him. He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week.”
In the same thread, Minaj further insinuated that Spotify “punished” her for premiering a snippet of her album on Queen Radio. She claimed there was delay in its arrival on Spotify and as such, “lost out on 12 hours of sales.” She later called out the platform for its excessive promotion of Drake’s music and hinted that her record label, Republic, did not want to defend her.
She later passed off her comments as “sarcasm/dry humor.”
Chapter 15. Nicki compares herself to Harriet Tubman at the VMAs
Ahead of her appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 21, Minaj drafted a series of tweets in which she referenced famed activist and slave abolitionist, Harriet Tubman. “All the QUEENS, I remember, SHOOK SHIT UP!!!!!!!!” she wrote, “Queen of the week may go to Harriet Tubman.” When reporters asked her to clarify her statements, Minaj replied, “I am Harriet Tubman.”
Chapter 16. Spotify responds to Nicki’s comments about Queen promotion
Following Minaj’s earlier allegations that Spotify had “punished” her through lack of promotion and “lost sales,” a rep from the streaming service publicly responded to the claims on August 20.
“Spotify supported Nicki Minaj with a Times Square billboard, a host of the largest playlists, New Music Friday and the new music release shelf,” the rep said, as per Variety. “Her song ‘Bed’ actually saw an increase based on the promotions put behind the campaign. The company continues to be big fans of Nicki.”
Chapter 17. Nicki attacks Travis Scott again on Queen Radio
On August 22, Minaj sat down for her fourth episode of Queen Radio, during which she called out Travis Scott for the second time. In her follow-up complaint regarding Travis Scott’s Astroworld merch bundles, the rapper doubled down, giving him the “Hoe N***a of the Year” award.
Chapter 18. Nicki calls out Billboard for a ‘fraudulent’ article regarding her joint tour with Future
On August 22, Minaj criticized Billboard‘s reporting of her joint tour with Future, awarding them the title “#CockSuckaOfTheDay.” The publication originally reported that her tour had been canceled, which Minaj disputes, later clarifying it had been postponed. “I haven’t CANCELLED anything. I reversed the order of the US & EUROPEAN LEGS of my tour,” she wrote on Instagram.
Minaj asserts that she had been writing up until the week prior of Queen‘s August release date. The short turnaround would not have given the rapper adequate time to rehearse, she argued. “I can’t rehearse 4 WEEKS for a tour I originally planned on rehearsing 3 months for. I give my fans QUALITY,” she notes. “This is one black woman they will not bully into a corner by FRAUDULENT SHAMING TACTICS.”
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