- Nicki Minaj defended Jesy Nelson following “Blackfishing” criticism of their new music video “Boyz.”
- Minaj and Nelson addressed the controversy in an hour-long Instagram live video shared on Monday.
- “My intention was never ever to offend people of color with this video and this song,” Nelson said.
Vulture reports that some criticism from Black audiences said that Nelson was using a “Blaccent” in the song, which led to accusations that the singer was “Blackfishing.”
The term Blackfishing was coined by Wanna Thompson, a freelance writer who started a viral Twitter thread in November 2018 to describe white or white-passing women manipulating Eurocentric features to appear more ethnically ambiguous.
In an Instagram video captioned “Baddie & the Barbie” that runs just over an hour and has over 3 million views at the time of writing, Minaj, 38, invited Nelson, 30, to discuss the allegations.
“As long as you’re not hurting anybody or speaking negatively about anyone’s race or culture, you should be able to enjoy your body, your makeup, how you want to,” Minaj said.
The pair also referenced unverified, leaked messages that Nelson’s former Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock purportedly sent to TikToker NoHun, a fan who posted screenshots that appeared to show an exchange with the star in an Instagram Live video shared on Saturday. The unverified messages appear to show Pinnock calling Nelson a “horrible person” who practices Blackfishing and had blocked her, according to The Mirror.
In her Instagram video with Nelson, Minaj said criticism from Pinnock came from a place of “jealousy” over Nelson’s solo debut since leaving the band in December 2020.
Nelson addressed Minaj’s 160 million followers in the Instagram video, saying: “My intention was never ever to offend people of color with this video and this song.”
“Growing up as a young girl this is the music that I listened to, these are the videos that I watched and thought were the best,” Nelson added, noting that she wanted to pay homage to Diddy, whose “Bad Boy For Life” song is sampled by the duo in their new song.
Nelson also said that her appearance in the video showed her naturally curly hair and a vacation tan.
“When I was in the video with you I didn’t even have any fake tan on, I’d been in Antigua prior to that for three weeks,” she said. “I’m just really lucky as a white girl that when I’m in the sun, I tan so dark.”
She added: “So many people have said to me before, like Leigh-Anne even said to me in the group, ‘Are you sure you’re not mixed-race because you go darker than me in the sun?'”
Referencing Pinnock and bandmate Jade Thirlwall, Nelson said she was in the group with two women of color for a decade and that the issue was brought to her attention when they made their last music video together. At the time, Nelson said, Leigh-Anne messaged her saying she wanted to make her “aware,” though Nelson did not elaborate on what else the message said.
Nelson previously faced accusations of cultural appropriation in 2018, the BBC reported at the time. In a now-deleted post that garnered over 191,000 likes, the singer posed in dreadlocks but received a number of comments urging her to delete the post and issue an apology, the publication reported.
Representatives for Minaj, Nelson, and Pinnock did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.