Nicki Minaj apologized Thursday for using a famous photo of Malcolm X protecting his family for her latest single, "Lookin A-- N----." Almost immediately after the single was released, the rapper was subject to backlash as many felt she was misappropriating the iconic picture to sell a song that uses the n-word in almost every line.
Nicki Minaj apologized to Malcolm X's estate for using the image of the civil rights leader in so base a way, pointing out that the picture was intended "in no way to undermine his efforts and legacy." She had tweeted and Instagrammed the photo earlier this week.
"That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single," she wrote. "I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. … I have nothing but respect (and) adoration for u."
The photo, which was released in Ebony magazine in 1964, shows Malcolm X holding an M1 carbine while looking out the window to protect his family— his home had been firebombed because of his then-controversial stance on civil rights.
Many were outraged that Minaj would conflate the Nation of Islam leader with such a crass song filled with racial slurs.
"Say what you will about his days as Detroit Red hustling on the stress of Harlem, there is nothing N-word like about Malcolm X," Alvin Aqua Blance wrote at HipHopWired. "To equate a man that literally died for his cause— the advancement of human rights for people of color— is just wrong on multiple levels."
Minaj said that the slain revolutionary was supposed to be aligned with her, since she fires an assault rifle in the video.
"I am in the video shooting at Lookin A-- N----- and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!!" she stated, apparently exasperated with the backlash.
She also addressed critics who believe her almost constant use of the n-word in the song is offensive.
"The word 'n-----' causes so much debate in our community while the 'n-----' behavior gets praised and worship. Let's not," Minaj added. "Apologies to his family … The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you."