Yesterday evening, Nicki Minaj released her latest recording, “Lookin Ass Niggaz”. The song’s title is emblazoned over Malcolm X’s iconic image first published in Ebony magazine. Nicki caught wind of the backlash and offered a disingenuous apology via Instagram.
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? 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. The word “nigga” causes so much debate in our community while the “nigga” 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.
No matter how you slice it, the picture was disrespectful. Contrary to Nicki’s claim and the song’s lyrics, Malcolm wasn’t “ready to pull his his gun out” against men sharing one bottle in the club. In 1964, the year the photo was taken, Malcolm’s life was threatened after repudiating the Nation Of Islam and leader Elijah Muhammad. Back in ’88, KRS-One recreated the image on the cover of By All Means Necessary. As one of the few prominent Black artists in the game, Nicki has the unfortunate responsibility of representing our culture’s past, future, and present. If we continue to trivialize our history through memes, lyrics, and art, don’t expect anyone else to give a fuck.