Malcolm X's family and estate say hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj's use of a famous photo of the black nationalist with a rifle in his hands and juxtaposing it with a racial slur for her new song's artwork is disrespectful and offensive.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, says Nicki's use of the picture "in no way is endorsed by our family".
Nicki apologised on Thursday for using the photo. She pulled the artwork after she was criticised on many social media platforms. Her new song's title includes the N-word.
She said the single cover was "never the official artwork".
Mark Roesler, chief executive of CMG Worldwide, which represents the Malcolm X estate, calls Minaj's use of the photo "dehumaniaing".
"This is a family photo that was taken out of context in a totally inaccurate and tasteless way," said his statement on behalf of the family.
Nicky posted the artwork on her Instagram page and website. The photo shows Malcolm X holding a rifle as he was trying to protect his family from death threats; his home had been firebombed.
"I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued. ... I have nothing but respect (and) adoration for u," Nickij said on her Instagram page following the criticism.
The 31-year-old rapper-singer said later in a radio interview that she wrote the song to empower women because there are too many songs that attack females.