Nicki Minaj video Cover Art upsets Malcolm X's fans

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Rapper Nicki Minaj has never shied away from making a statement -- and with her latest video, the rapstress is back in the crosshairs of controversy. The clip, for her new single "Lookin Ass Nigga," has drawn mixed reviews so far, but what's sparked a debate isn't the track itself -- but, rather, her unofficial cover art, which uses an image of Malcolm X holding a gun. (The image has since been taken down, but you can see it here.)


Shortly after she posted the picture to her Instagram account, the uproar began -- including a petition, which drew thousands of signatures, urging a boycott to stop her from "dishonoring the life and contributions of one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century." In another petition, activist Kevin Powell made the point that Malcolm X's reason for carrying a gun (because he was justifiably afraid for his life) isn't comparable to Minaj's sexualized use of guns in the video.

Amidst the furor, Minaj took to Instagram on Thursday evening to explain herself and offer an apology to the assassinated leader's estate. "What seems to be the issue now?" she wrote, before apologizing:

...Well, I apologize. That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass Niggaz 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...

Nicki Minaj - "Lookin Ass Nigga" (Official Video) . #HD