Nicki Minaj caused a social media uproar after releasing the artwork for her new song, “Lookin’ Ass N***a,” which depicts an image of the civil-rights activist Malcolm X holding a rifle. After deleting the image, the rapper explained in a lengthy Instagram post that the cover art was not official and was only intended to spark a conversation.
“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 N***az? Well, I apologize,” she wrote on Thrusday. “That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single.”
In the photo Malcolm X is seen peeking out the window of his Queens, New York, home. It’s reportedly the same image that appeared in the 1964 issues of Ebony and Life magazine, just a year before he was assassinated.
So what inspired Nicki to post the sepia-tinted image? “I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass N***az 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,” she explained.
She continued, “I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. The word ‘n***a’ causes so much debate in our community while the ‘n***a’ behavior gets praised and worship. Let’s not. Apologies again to his family. I have nothing but respect an adoration for u. The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you.”
While the new track won’t appear on Nicki’s upcoming album, The Pink Print, it will be included in the Young Money compilation Rise of an Empire, which arrives on March 11.