Does Nicki Minaj single cover disrespect Malcolm X?

Did Nicki Minaj go too far by using Malcolm X's image for the cover of her new single, Lookin A-- N----?
Many people thought so after the singer debuted the single Wednesday with a not-safe-for-work, Nabil-directed video. The single's cover has Minaj's name and the single title superimposed over a picture of the civil-rights leader holding an M1 carbine and looking out his window. The original version of the photograph was first published in Ebony magazine in 1964.

"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," Alvin Aqua Blance writes at HipHopWired. "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."

The single is slated to appear both on Young Money: Rise of an Empire, due March 11, and on Minaj's forthcoming album, The Pink Print.

While Minaj fans praised the track and the video, many people took exception to the cover, particularly since it comes during Black History Month. Here's a sampling of Twitter responses:
But the artist addressed the controversy in a new Instagram post, apologizing while explaining:
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.


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