NEW YORK • On Sunday afternoon, Nicki Minaj went on Twitter to go over some issues of accounting.
Moments earlier, Billboard reported that Travis Scott’s Astroworld was the No. 1 album within the United States for the second week operating, relegating Minaj’s Queen, her fourth studio album, to No. 2 in its debut week.
“I spoke to him,” she tweeted, referring to Scott. “He knows he doesn’t have the #1 album this week. I love my fans for the #1 album in America.”
What incensed Minaj was a lift in gross sales Scott had acquired by bundling his album with merchandise and tour packages, and likewise an Instagram submit by Scott’s paramour, Kylie Jenner, “telling people to come see her and Stormi”, Minaj tweeted. Stormi is Scott and Jenner’s child daughter.
But that was not it. For about an hour, Minaj – whose album gross sales have been supported by comparable packages – listed her gripes: Billboard chart chicanery, Spotify blackballing, record-label spinelessness.
Her complaints about how these alleged actions affected the rollout (and subsequent chart place) of Queen – which she later disregarded as “sarcasm/dry humour” – have been implicitly tied to Minaj’s broader perception that, as a feminine rapper, she has not absolutely gotten her due.
No one is entitled to a No. 1 album and, normally, document labels and artists attempt to strategise release dates to maximise their possibilities.
For the previous two months, most individuals have stayed out of the way in which of Canadian rapper Drake’s Scorpion, which had a five-week run at No. 1. Scott bumped Drake from the highest every week in the past.
Presumably, Minaj anticipated to dethrone Scott – and subsequent week, be dethroned herself by labelmate and collaborator Ariana Grande.
But it was to not be. Still, the ensuing pyrotechnics obscure a far bleaker fact, which is that this fleeting battle for album-chart supremacy – itself a metric that’s changing into more and more irrelevant – is between two artists preoccupied with the album format who usually are not particularly well-suited to it.
For Minaj, a classically expert rapper fired within the kiln of New York mixtape rap and one of many final true crossover hip-hop superstars, an album is a chance to indicate off, to put on totally different guises, to make a grand assertion. It is a declaration of pomp and vary.
That is what it’s for Scott as nicely, however his strategy is sort of reverse. He is commonly much less current on his personal album than all the visitors he gathers. The sum complete is spectacular, virtually overwhelming, but it surely says little about Scott on his personal.
Queen is Minaj’s first album in 4 years, a stretch of time during which the music business has been upended by streaming, and hip-hop has been upended by the Internet.
But albums usually are not for everybody. This tussle over Billboard chart dominance – by no means thoughts that Minaj is judging her first week towards Scott’s second – feels particularly futile provided that it’s between artists who might most likely proceed to thrive with out them.
Minaj’s superstar is safe. Scott has found out how you can embody trendy hip-hop whereas bypassing the same old steppingstones. For each, the album is an albatross, not a solution.