With the anniversary of the death of noted black activist and cultural icon, Malcolm X fast approaching on February the 21st, the social media community was in an uproar over the cover art for Nicki Minaj’s latest single, “Lookin’ A** Ni**a. The art work shows Malcolm X in the iconic photo, looking out the window of his home in Queens, New York. Malcolm is holding a rifle in response to threats against he and his family. Many on sites such as Facebook began to voice their displeasure with the use of the image being used in such a manner. But when it comes to the world of Hip-Hop, drama sells records. When discussing the genre’s past transgressions, Nicki Minaj ranks high on the list of hip-hop controversies.
Here are some of the biggest controversies in hip-hop from 2013.
J-Cole: On his track “Jodeci Freestyle,” J.Cole raps he’s artistic, while describing his competition as autistic. The line sent the autism community into a fury. Cole quickly issued an apology. Rapper Drake, who was also on the track resisted apologizing, but after getting the full brunt of the autistic communities anger, he then followed Cole’s lead and issued his own apology.
Kanye West: West raps about Parkinson’s disease in a track titled “On Sight,” making fun of the tremor that is a symptom of the disease. No apologies were ever issued.
Lil Wayne: In the track “Karate Chop” Wayne compared his sexual prowess to the 1955 torture and murder of Emmitt Till — a 14-year-old African-American killed during a family visit to Mississippi. Lil Wayne would lose his endorsement deal with Mountain Dew.
Rick Ross: On his track “U.O.E.N.O,” Rick Ross raps about date rape being fun. Reebok would go on to fire Ross as their spokesman. He later apologized on a New Orleans radio station.
When it comes to controversies in hip-hop there has to be apologies that go along with it. After the storm of negative feedback hit a high, Minaj issued this apology,
“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 “Lookin (expletive)?” the 31-year-old asked in her post. “I am in the video shooting and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!!”
An online petition encouraged Minaj to change the cover art. As of Thursday the petition had over 1,500 supporters. Since then the artwork has been taken down off of her Instagram account, but it is still up on her website. This is the first major issue of 2014 for a genre built on controversy. If the uproar is any indication, then the rest of the year will be very eventful. This is not Minaj’s first bout with controversy. In fact, Minaj was high on everyone’s list of hip-hop controversies not long ago when she attended the 2012 Grammy Awards with a pope look-alike as her date.
How high do you think Nicki Minaj ranks on the list of hip-hop controversies? Leave your comment to voice your opinion.
Editorial by Tony Bowers