Nicki Minaj Apologizes For Controversial Malcolm X Cover Art

Rucuss staffFebruary 14, 2014

Nicki Minaj received so much backlash for using an iconic Malcolm X image on the cover of her latest song, she was forced to apologize a day later.

Minaj was criticized for using an image of Malcolm X on the cover of her song, Looking Ass Ni**a.’The original photo, which was published in Ebony magazine in 1964, shows Malcolm holding an M1 carbine and looking out the window.

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Many took offense to her use of the photo because the civil rights leader had the gun to express that he would protect his family “by any means necessary.” Minaj’s use appeared to be for shock value only.

Lookin Ass Nigga

As soon as the photo went viral, a petition was launched asking Minaj  to remove the image from her social media immediately. Minaj deleted the picture before posting the following statement on her Instagram:

“What seems to be the issue now? Do you have a problem with me referring to the people Malcolm X was ready to pull his gun out on as Lookin Ass Niggaz? Well, I apologize. That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass Niggaz and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!!

It is in no way to undermine his efforts and legacy. I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. The word ‘nigga’ causes so much debate in our community while the ‘nigga’ behavior gets praised and worship. Let’s not. Apologies again to his family. I have nothing but respect an adoration for u. The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you.”

Many did not see it the same way and thought is was disrespectful and offensive.

“I’ve never in my life seen a black artist openly disrespect Malcolm x like nicki minaj just did. And don’t tell me I’m being sensitive,” commented @_chukwuweike.

Kevin Powell also added in a discussion on his Facebook page:

“The problem is the industry culture that has taken the balance out of the music, slanted it all to one side. So a year ago it was Lil Wayne putting Emmett Till and the word vagina in the same sentence, and now this. As I said on this page the other day it is really about power and who ultimately makes the decisions that these things are okay to say and do. But because so many do listen to Weezy, to Nicki, we do have to respond and see these things as teachable moments in addition to voicing our great disgust.”

Minaj isn’t the first person to use the image. The photo has been recreated several times, including Bilal’s Airtight’s Revenge album cover and on the cover of KRS’ Boogie Down Productions By Any Means Necessary album.

Bilal recreates iconic Malcolm X photo

malcolm bdp

Powell added:

“Completely different context! KRS-One was clear his music was about elevating people, which is why he labeled it “edutainment.” And this was in the middle of the Golden Era of hip-hop when pretty much every artist had at least one political song on their album, if not a whole album full of political stuff. NWA, for example, to this day, have the greatest hip-hop song ever about police brutality (“F___ Tha Police) while LL Cool J’s “Illegal Search” captures racial profiling perfectly, but they were not considered political hip-hop acts. So it is one thing to appropriate Malcolm X in a cultural movement and era that was political. It is another thing to use Malcolm’s image completely out of context, without any real explanation and in complete opposition to who Malcolm X was.”

Watch Minaj’s new video below.

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