Rapper Nicki Minaj on Monday afternoon compared her struggles in the music industry to the work of abolitionist Harriet Tubman during the slavery era.
Minaj, who released her album Queen on Aug. 10, had been venting since Sunday about her album failing to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, implying she was snubbed by rapper Travis Scott, whose album Astroworld claimed the top position.
“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.”
Tubman’s name became a trending topic soon after, though Minaj caught backlash for appearing to compare herself to the famous abolitionist.
Minaj, seemingly delighted by the attention, took the opportunity to explain what she meant by her initial Tubman tweet.
“Y’all I had no idea Harriet Tubman was now trending,” Minaj tweeted. “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.”
The quote Minaj referenced — “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” — is often attributed to Tubman.
However, fact-checking site Snopes reported that several historians, including Rice University professor W. Caleb McDaniel, have found no evidence Tubman actually said this.
“It encourages activists who quote and read it to believe that the only thing standing between modern slaves and freedom is knowledge, self-awareness, education and a willingness to actively dissent,” McDaniel wrote in an essay in 2016.
Minaj isn’t the only celebrity who has referred to the quote to make a point. Kanye West also tweeted the quote back in May to defend his assertion that “slavery was a choice.”