Nicki Minaj used an image of Malcolm X holding a gun as the cover art for her new single “Lookin A** Ni**a,” and the family of the iconic civil rights leader is not happy about it.
In a statement to the Associated Press on Friday, Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz said the rapper’s use of the photo was “in no way is endorsed by our family.”
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“Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy,” she explained. “Situations like the recent portrayal of our father on the album cover for Ms. Minaj’s new single only highlight the fact that we as a society need to take more responsibility for what we’re teaching our children.”
“It is our family’s hope that the true legacy and context of Malcolm X’s life continues to be shared with people from all walks of life in a positive manner that helps promote the goals and ideals for which Malcolm X so passionately advocated,” she added.
Mark Roesler, CEO of CMG Worldwide (who handles licensing and merchandizing for the Malcolm X estate), agreed with Ilyasah. “This is a family photo that was taken out of context in a totally inaccurate and tasteless way,” said his statement on behalf of the family.
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Nicki publicly apologized for using the image twice on Thursday — first on her Instagram account and again during a radio interview the Hot 97. “I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued,” she wrote. “I have nothing but respect (and) adoration for u.” She removed the artwork and “never the official artwork.”
Later that evening, she told Angie Martinez: “It was almost parallel in my opinion because he has this big gun ready to shoot at a lookin’ (expletive) bleep, and that’s how I looked at it…I looked at it as this is one of the most memorable people in our history, in black history, who voiced his opinion no matter what, and I understand how my intent was overlooked and I definitely didn’t want to offend his family or his legacy.”
L. Londell McMillan, the attorney for the Malcolm X estate, threatened legal action if the photos weren’t removed immediately.
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