Alvin Aqua Blanco

Nicki Minaj Uses Malcolm X Image For Artwork, Offends Many


Nicki Minaj dropped a new single tonight called “Lookin’ Ass Ni**a,” and the Internets is doing what it does on such occasions; discussing it pros and cons with healthy doses of slander in the mix. However, also being hotly debated is the image of Malcolm X that is used as the single’s artwork. 

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.

But the issue at hand is the use of Brother Malcolm’s image. Juxtaposting the words “Lookin Ass Ni**a” anywhere near the likeness of a man who is an icon and hero to many African-Americans, and progressive people in general, is uncomfortable. Actually, plenty of people see it as utmost disrespect. Also, we haven’t discussed the song’s less than savory and wholly unrighteous content.


Photo: Fair Use

Say what you will about his days as Detroit Red hustling on the streets of Harlem, there is nothing N-word like about Malcolm X. That sentiment increases exponentially when he became El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz after his trip to Mecca. The trip led X to distance himself further from the separatist teachings of the Nation of Islam, adopt and dedicate himself to Sunni Islam and in turn push a viewpoint of the acceptance of people of all creeds and colors.

To equate a man that literally died for his cause—the advancement of human rights for people of color—is just wrong on multiple levels.

Dismissing the photo as just a throwaway or with a “who really cares?” is dangerous ground to tread. It’s the sort of indifference that led to such artwork being okayed in the first place. Or, it could very well be a case of trolling, which would be despicable in its own right.

However this tacky single cover came to be, someone has some explaining to do. The man born Malcolm Little was no “lookin ass ni**a,” period. At least a little respect should always be shown his way.

nicki minaj artwork

Photo: AP Photo/Henry Griffin

Comment Comments: 34 Tags Tags: nicki minaj, malcolm x

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  • AKL

    Very Disrespectful!

  • KOS

    What do you expect from hood rats? They have no idea what respect means. This confirmed for me that her and her bosses are just as dumb as I thought they were. Fvck her and her fake a$$ accent.

  • Poster

    I would like to know who owns the rights to that photo and was it cleared for use on that cover.

    • Matthew Peters

      Free use.

  • she didn’t mean intentionally but it was a bad move.

  • Robert

    Bad Taste and highly disrespectful

  • BlakOnyx77

    Come on, Man! This image is fashioned in terribly poor taste! Either Nicki doesn’t listen to the folks in her circle who said “don’t do that” or she doesn’t have any of those folks in her circle to begin with.

    • CEO

      On the contrary her circle is not Black People and hate or don’t care about black people. She has handlers that wanted to desecrate his image and message for Economic empowerment, on the heels of the posters with MLK partying in chains.
      They always try to turn any black Icon (hell lets call it what it is Black IDOL) into a cartoon or fashion statement.

  • G

    Smh at everybody reactions

    • Guest

      Let me guess, you were there to shoot him too.

  • solofromtoronto

    C’mon Nikki



    • GlennBerman

      I’m buying out the store

  • Maraj not Minaj

    She’s a racist, y’all better look past skin color to the real heart of the matter.

  • GlennBerman

    Niki is selling records, no disrespect intended towards Malco’s memory, but controversy yes, and it’s working.

    • TheArchAngel

      @GlennBerman ….. and there you have the recipe for your basic all around sellout, aka.”Steven” from D’jango, aka “The house ni**as” …..

      • GlennBerman

        Everyone is a sell out when it comes to money. Niki is selling, records and someone is buying.

  • iamhim

    stupidity like this doesn’t surprise me especially coming from a hoe like her! can’t even say her name

    • idris

      Why you so mad?

  • mrljboyce

    It’s that new young and dumb generation. What do you expect??

    • 1gangstaPARTY

      She does not represent our entire generation. What generation are you from, the old crackhead generation? The heroine generation? Im sure you wouldnt appreciate if someone referred to your entire generation as negative based on what a few ppl do.

      • mrljboyce

        Insecure much???

      • Repo136

        “heroine generation”

      • mrljboyce

        I did not have the heart. There is much more than misspelled words I could have pointed out..

  • Lenny Rojas

    This is to show how low people go for attention and record sales. cash money and young money doesn’t care about the youth and the effect their music has on them. that’s why kids today are strung out on medications like cough syrup, perks , zanex etc.

  • Janine Turner

    You know what you have a surmountable lack of intelligence…WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GAIN FROM STUPIDITY? This shows your tackiness, and lack for you own culture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • TheBrat

    Extremely disrespectful!! This man fought for equal rights and NOT to be referred to by the N word…..yet she is placing it loud and proud on the cover on his image. This kids really need to learn a little black history!

  • USBlues

    This is grounds for termination, point blank.

  • Michael Nahra

    Today it would be referred to as an assault weapon. Many use images from the past and I do not see anything offensive in this.

    • confused at your comment

      Huh? Seriously?

      • never mind . . .

        Wait, you were, I hope, being sarcastic! I get it! Funny. My bad.

  • God is My Mojo

    I think this move just goes to show you how disconnected these “rapper/entertainers” are to their own history. To drop a gem like this during Black History Month is just plain dumbness and the song is a claptrap waist of precious resources. I actually think that Nicki is a dope MC who fell victim to Hip Hop’s crossover pit but come again with that selector!!!!

  • Charles Bronson

    I hope she drops a copy of the Malcolm X DVD she got out of Redbox, then trips over her own feet and slices her throat on the jagged pieces of the broken video.

  • GlennBerman

    Niki is an artist and artists are often controversial, if you see racism in Niki’s album cover, chances are you are a racist.