Community leaders are calling for a boycott of rap artist Nicki Minaj due to what they deem to be dishonorable use of Malcolm X to promote her expletive-filled recording.
On Feb. 12, the Queens-native released artwork on her website and Instagram account promoting her new single, “Lookin A— N—a,” featuring the famous picture of the uncompromising militant peeping out a window while gripping a high-powered M1 carbine assault rifle with the recording’s title superimposed over it.
After much criticism, Minaj removed the image and responded the next day via Instagram. “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 A— N—a’ 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.”
Last Friday, Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcolm and Betty Shabazz’s daughter, told the press: “Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy, is completely disrespectful and in no way is endorsed by my family.” She implored the value of teaching the youth the truth about their past.
“It is our family’s hope that the true legacy and context of Malcolm X’s life continues to be shared with people from all walks of life in a positive manner that helps promote the goals and ideals for which Malcolm X so passionately advocated,” said Shabazz.
Supporters say they don’t like the fact that an artist who promotes female promiscuity is linking herself with the Black leader’s legacy and are suggesting she donate some of the record’s proceeds to causes Malcolm supported.
“That’s the great ancestor, Malcolm X, Brother Omawale, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, expressing himself through Nicki Minaj to bring about awareness of his legacy to this generation,” said social analyst La Meh Nua. “It’s not that she used his image … many artists have included Malcolm in their art—KRS, Gang Starr and Public Enemy—but they never connected it to negativity.”
Shabazz added: “It’s disgraceful to attach the N-word to him, flat-out. I think it’s horrible. Look at all of the work that Malcolm X did. For her to use his image and the language that she used, it’s a major disrespect.”
Some say Malcolm’s 1964 assessment applies to Minaj today. Said Malcolm: “Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such extent that you bleach it to get like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?
“Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to … so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? No, before you come asking Mr. Muhammad does he teach hate, you should ask yourself, who taught you to hate what God gave you?”