Rapper Nicki Minaj is apologizing for using a popular photo of civil rights icon Malcolm X and captioning it with a racial slur for her new song's cover art, the Associated Press reports.
On Wednesday the eccentric artist posted the photo to her website and Instagram and was quickly slammed across social media for using the image for her new track “Lookin Ass Nigga,” which many saw as a sign of disrespect.
As for Minaj, she said that it was not meant to "undermine [Malcolm X's] efforts or legacy."
"That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single," she wrote on her Instagram. "I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued … I have nothing but respect [and] adoration for u."
However, that doesn't mean she didn't defend herself and what the cover means to her. "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?” the 31-year-old asked in her post. "I am in the video shooting … and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!!"
The photo she refers to is a famous one of Malcolm X holding a rifle and glancing out a window as he protects his family from death threats. The iconic leader was assassinated 49 years ago this month.
"It was almost parallel, in my opinion, because he has this big gun ready to shoot at a lookin ass nigga, and that's how I looked at it," she said, AP notes. "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."
Read more of The Root’s coverage in “How Nicki Minaj Photoshopped Malcolm X’s Legacy.”
Read more at the Associated Press.