Nicki Minaj's use of a famous photo of Malcolm X holding a rifle as cover art for her latest single "Lookin Ass N***a" has upset the family and estate of the late civil rights leader. And now the family is voicing their thoughts.
“Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy,” Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm X's daughter, said in statement to the Associated Press.
She added that the cover "in no way is endorsed by our family."
Mark Roesler, the business representative for Malcolm X's estate, also publicly called out Minaj's use of the iconic photo, calling it "dehumanizing" in an official statement representing the family.
“This is a family photo that was taken out of context in a totally inaccurate and tasteless way,” he said.
But the estate and family were not the only ones questioning Minaj's actions. The "Starships" singer pulled the artwork down on Thursday after being lambasted on social media and issued an explanation.
"That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single," she wrote via Instagram.
"This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at 'Lookin Ass N-ggaz' 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…"
It seems, however, that Nicki's apology failed to quell the storm.
L. Londell McMillan, the attorney for the Malcolm X estate, threatened legal action on Friday if all remaining occurrences of the artwork were not expelled.
"Failure to do so within the next 24 hours shall result in legal action,” McMillian said. “The initial act and subsequent acts of distribution were improper and ill-advised. Any disparagement, infringement or disrespect of Malcolm X, and his name, image, likeness and proprietary rights will not be tolerated.”
According to the Washington Post, the image in question showed Malcolm X attempting to protect his family after death threats. The same death threats that ultimately came into fruition when he was assassinated in 1965.