Nicki Minaj’s Week From Hell: Kylie Jenner Drama, Tour Shakeups and… Harriet Tubman?
The acclaimed artist—and self-proclaimed ‘Harriet Tubman’—has embarked on one of the more bizarre promo campaigns in recent memory for her new album, ‘Queen.’
For many celebrities, getting called out for co-signing a sex criminal would mark an all-time public image low. But not for Nicki Minaj, who quickly jumped from collaborating with the highly controversial Tekashi 6ix9ine to putting her ex on blast on Twitter, blaming a Jenner offspring for less-than-spectacular album sales, feuding with Spotify, and repeatedly comparing herself to Harriet Tubman.
Some of these maneuvers were probably just (successful) attempts to snatch headlines as Minaj debuted her new album, Queen. Who are we to judge the creative ways that an artist can stay trending, especially if they involve hilarious revelations about Tyga’s hair plugs?
If Minaj’s newfound penchant for putting everyone on blast was actually helping her, that would be one thing; but no amount of Tubman-talk can make Queen the game-changing phenomenon that Minaj was hoping for. Which isn’t to say that the album hasn’t done well—it debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and earned the No. 1 iTunes spot in 86 countries. But Minaj wanted to be No. 1, and she wasn’t above blaming a very wealthy baby for being dethroned.
But before we get to Stormi Webster, let’s talk about Safaree Samuels. Minaj’s string of social-media scandals got started in earnest last week, when she was asked about her ex, Safaree Samuels, during a radio interview. The feud then moved to Twitter, where Samuels quickly went from mocking Minaj for bringing up an old beef, to unscrolling a laundry list of specific gripes. Pettiness abounded on both sides, with Samuels writing, “You did shit I did shit. You said you were messing with meek a few years b4 y’all got together and I’m not mad at that” and “You hold on to everything. your problem with Dj self is because me and him are so cool and nothing else. You have a problem with mona Scott because she put me on the show. let all that ish go.”
Minaj accused Samuels of stealing her credit card and showing up to her house begging for a second chance. She continued, “Btch you hit me & meek asking us to get your dick pic back from someone. Lol. You were playing with ur dick in the shower by urself with suds & shit. I have the email where u said you couldn’t pay ur electric bill & why you lied on me but go AWWFFF!” Minaj also expressed profound regret for bankrolling Samuels’ hair plugs, outing Tyga as follicly challenged in the process: “Tyga shit ain’t fall back out!!!! Y’all went to the same doctor!!! Yours fell out cuz GOD DONT LIKE UGLY!!!!!!”
Samuels then upped the stakes considerably by claiming that Minaj once tried to kill him. He wrote, “Remember the night you cut me and i almost died the police and ambulance had to take me out the crib on a stretcher and I had to lie and tell them I was trying to kill myself so they wouldn’t take you to jail. When things like that start happening more Than once it’s time to dip.”
He ended by asking what everyone else was thinking: “Is this suppose to be your promo run?” adding, “I’m flattered that you feel talking about me can help. I can’t believe ur still mad.”
But Nicki Minaj was clearly destined for bigger targets than her ex’s hairline. So she used Twitter to take aim at a series of unsuspecting would-be nemeses: rapper Travis Scott, his girlfriend Kylie Jenner, streaming giant Spotify, and actual infant Stormi Webster. Not one to take her No. 2 status sitting down, Minaj offered a few theories on why Scott’s Astroworld was ahead of her album on the Billboard 200. She tweeted, “I put my blood sweat & tears in writing a dope album only for Travis Scott to have Kylie Jenner post a tour pass telling ppl to come see her & Stormi. lol. Im actually laughing.” Minaj then went on to call out Spotify for allegedly punishing her after she previewed her album on her Apple Music Queen Radio show.
“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. Even tho they’ve been giving away my music for free for years & I am one of the top Spotify artists of all time,” she wrote, adding, “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. Oh I can’t wait for #QueenRadio on Tuesday. They took away my promotion they had promised for the 1st cpl days b/c of this.”
Spotify released a statement in response to the allegations, claiming that “the company continues to be big fans of Nicki,” and that, “Spotify supported Nicki Minaj with a Times Square billboard, a host of the largest playlists, New Music Friday and the new music release shelf.”
While Minaj tried to temper her Twitter threads by insisting that “this is sarcasm/dry humor,” Monday night’s VMAs proved that her virtual feuds were very real. According to a TMZ report, the security team behind the VMAs were taking “extra measures” in light of Minaj and Samuels’ Twitter feud, including “more guards” in order to “ensure the 2 don’t have any interaction.”
Though Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott were originally seated right behind Minaj, the seats were reportedly shifted, either because of the social-media beefing or merely as a nod to Scott’s chart supremacy. And then there’s this video of Kylie Jenner swerving Minaj at the ceremonies to avoid a possible confrontation.
It was a busy Monday for Minaj. Ahead of the awards show, she pulled yet another big name into the mix: Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist and activist. “All the QUEENS I remember, SHOOK SHIT UP!!!!!!!!,” Minaj tweeted. “Queen of the week may go to HARRIET TUBMAN!!!!!! Had she just sat there & ate her rice, you niggaz history would’ve been a lot less triumphant.” Rather than walking back the statement, Minaj doubled down, writing, “Y’all I had no idea Harriet Tubman was now trending. I said what I said.”
“#QueenRadio will honor her tmrw. She said she could’ve rescued more slaves had they known they were slaves. I fought for streaming services to count toward billboard when alotta niggz stayed quiet.”
TMZ managed to catch Minaj on her way to the VMAs, and dared to ask the artist if she may have gone “a bit too far with the slave comparison to the streaming service.” Minaj responded, “No. No. I am Harriet Tubman. Leave me alone.”
On a recent episode of Queen Radio, the Apple Music radio show she debuted ahead of the album release, Minaj offered up a sample of her most recent beefs. She restated her problems with Travis Scott, awarding him “Hoe Nigga of the Week” for having the audacity to boost his numbers by selling merchandise bundles that count towards album sales (for the record, this is a thing that almost everyone, including Nicki Minaj, does). Minaj accused Scott of “selling clothes instead of music,” saying, “What we’re not gonna do is have that Auto-Tune man selling fucking sweaters telling you he sold half a million albums, because he fucking didn’t. You stupid fuck. You got your fucking homeboy talking for you and you got your girlfriend selling tour passes. Stop it. Knock it the fuck off.”
During the comprehensive radio spot, Minaj also revealed that she pulled out all the stops to try and get Tekashi 6ix9ine on stage with her at the VMAs. “I wanted Tekashi to perform with me at the VMAs, but somewhere along the line, he didn’t get approved to perform,” she explained. “I don’t want people to think I wouldn’t have him perform. I want everybody to know my character. I really really fought. When I know somebody, it’s nothin you can tell me about him. People have a lot to say because the Nicki hate train is in full effect.”
Minaj was less serious when summarizing her other mini-scandals, joking, “Me against baby Stormi. We have this rivalry now.” At another point, Minaj continued, “Y’all might laugh and say, ‘She’s comparing herself to Harriet Tubman’…I am going to compare myself to strong, black queens.”
“Please,” the rapper exhorted listeners, “understand this is entertainment.”
Despite this veneer of good humor, reports seem to indicate that Minaj might be in even more trouble than her attention-grabbing tactics would suggest. On Tuesday, Live Nation released a statement postponing Minaj’s upcoming tour. Additionally, it was announced that due to “scheduling conflicts,” Future would no longer be co-headlining the North American tour, which is now slated for May 2019. In a video explanation, Minaj told fans that, “I just finished writing and recording literally hours before the album came out, so now I just simply don’t have the time to rehearse and be on the road in time to give you guys the level of a show I need to give.”
But a Page Six report complicated Minaj’s story, suggesting that the tour had been suffering from dismal ticket sales. According to the tabloid, “Industry sources told us that Minaj has been ‘freaking out’ about painfully slow ticket sales for her North America tour with Future, which had been scheduled to start next month, but was canceled late Tuesday night.” A Live Nation source told Page Six that “Nicki’s tour looked to be the most disappointing ticket sales of the year for any artist,” adding, “Sales for opening night in Baltimore were just 2,000 tickets. LA was 3,400—for a 17,000 capacity venue—New Orleans 1,000, Denver 1,300, Chicago 3,900. Even Nicki’s hometown of New York City, the Barclays Center (which has a capacity of 19,000) sold only 5,050 tickets.”
“There was no way the tour could go forward,” the source concluded. “Nicki’s tour ticket sales were not just in the toilet, they were totally down the drain.”
On Wednesday, Minaj took issue with media outlets writing about her “cancelled” tour, specifically calling out a Billboard headline on Instagram. She captioned the post, “Barbz get me the name of this writer then hit them & tell them this is one black woman they will not bully into a corner by FRAUDULENT SHAMING TACTICS.” (Minaj’s fans are infamous for attacking perceived haters on Nicki’s behalf.)
“The narrative they are trying to create is disgusting,” she continued. “But I must say, I’m enjoying this. I love bringing some excitement to this shit. I love having the balls others only dream about.”