Nicki Minaj has released a new single, but the music is being overshadowed by its package.
The artwork for Minaj’s song, “Lookin’ Ass Ni**a” is a reproduction of the iconic photograph of Malcolm X, rifle in hand, looking out of the window of his Queens home, with the song’s title on the left side of the image.
The photograph of Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine rifle while peering out of a window is thought to be published in Ebony and Life magazine in 1964 (its exact origin is debated). The picture was taken in his Queens home, after he left the Nation of Islam, and would be assassinated a year later. Hip-Hop heads with plenty of years under their belt will surely remember KRS-One using the same pose (hold an Uzi instead of a rifle) as the cover of the Boogie Down Productions album By All Means Necessary. Official Hip-Hop purists will also note that Jay Z’s The Blueprint (2001) album actually followed BDP’s Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop (1989) album, which with Nicki Minaj titling her next album The Pink Print means extra irony.
Misappropriating the likeness of black iconic heroes is nothing new. Last month, a series of offensive promotional flyers were created using the likeness of Martin Luther King Jr.
King’s youngest daughter Dr. Bernice King was so offended that she responded to the images depicting the leader standing next to scantily clad women for a twerking party.
Thoughts on Nicki’s use on Malcolm X’s image? Disrespectful? Are folks being too sensitive?
Should such images ever be used by artists?
Sound off below!