Nicki Minaj Defends Jesy Nelson Against Blackfishing

“It screams insecurity, it screams that you’re jealous,” Nicki said, seemingly referencing Leigh-Anne.

Let me set the tone for this post with two defining thematic words: “major” and “yikes.” Nicki Minaj defended former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson following accusations that she was Blackfishing in her solo debut, “Boyz,” which features the rapper.

Rich Fury / Getty Images for Billboard, Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Blackfishing is when non-Black people change their appearance (whether by excessive tanning or makeup) or appropriate a characteristic associated with a Black person’s phenotype for commercial gain. Other celebs who have been accused of doing so include Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande. 

The music video for “Boyz” also features Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy), who cosigned the sampling of his “Bad Boy For Life.” When the single dropped on Friday, it quickly gained traction on social media. Viewers pointed out that the video heavily appropriated Black culture and aesthetics, and included lyrics that fed into problematic stereotypes, like the fetishization of Black men.

View this video on YouTube

Republic Records / Via

In the video, Jesy — who is white — stands next to Nicki and appears to share a similar skin tone with her. And like with Iggy Azalea before her, Jesy was accused of donning a Blaccent, appropriating AAVE as a non-Black person.

But this isn’t the first time Jesy — who left the UK girl group in December of last year — has been accused of Blackfishing and cultural appropriation. Speaking to Vulture in a recent profile, she responded to previous allegations, “I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on. I’m very aware that I’m a white British woman; I’ve never said that I wasn’t.”

Republic Records / Via

She also defended herself against the claims, saying that the accusations began after she left Little Mix. However, in an Instagram live with Nicki (more on that below), she said she was warned about Blackfishing concerns by fellow member Leigh-Anne Pinnock prior to her departure from the group.

Vulture claimed that Jesy canceled two follow-up calls to further discuss the allegations of Blackfishing. Instead, her publicist sent a statement, which read, “I take all those comments made seriously. I would never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous, so that’s why I was initially shocked that the term was directed at me.”

Jesy Nelson’s solo debut #Boyz is cute and the video was a fun 00s throwback. But it’s 4 minutes of blatant cultural appropriation:

– The Blackfishing
– Lowriders and bikes
– Gold teeth
– The Blackfishing
– The aesthetic
– The hair
– The lollipops


06:20 AM – 08 Oct 2021

Twitter: @Skylar_Writer / Via Twitter: @Skylar_Writer

In her interview with Vulture, she also defended Nicki’s controversial (and scientifically incorrect) vaccine stance, saying that “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” and it has “nothing to do with my song.”

And, last night, the Trinidadian rapper and X Factor alumna addressed the backlash. In an hour-long Instagram Live, the “Yikes” rapper held nothing back in defending Jesy and seemingly dragging all of Little Mix — none of whom follow Jesy on social media.

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Instagram / Nicki Minaj / Jesy Nelson / Via

The video came after a TikTok user shared screenshots of Instagram DM’s allegedly sent by Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock, where she asked the creator to expose Jesy’s Blackfishing, according to Metro. Leigh-Anne, who is of Bajan and Jamaican ancestry, also said Jesy blocked Little Mix, as opposed to the girl group unfollowing her.

TikToker NoHun just revealed Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s DMs to him about Jesy Nelson after he posted a video dancing to “Boyz”, saying Jesy blocked the girls of Little Mix leading people to believe the girl group unfollowed her:

“Do a video about her being a black fish instead🥴.”

05:49 PM – 09 Oct 2021

Twitter: @PopFactions / Via Twitter: @PopFactions

However, it must be noted that these are unverified, and a viral Twitter thread suggested they were faked.

During the Instagram live, Jesy once again defended herself, saying, “When I was in Little Mix, I just wanted to be accepted so I changed the way I dressed, I tried to go on stupid diets, did everything I could to be accepted. I just wasn’t being true to myself and I needed to take myself out of that situation, because at the end of the day, Nicki, you live once, and you’ve gotta do what makes you happy.”

Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images

She added that she “genuinely feels” she’s creating the music videos and songs that are most authentic to her.

Afterward, Nicki seemed to take aim at Leigh-Anne, calling her out for trying to “stop [Jesy’s] bag” and being a “clown.” “As soon as people can’t get a bag with you, they tend to wanna stop your bag. In my opinion, if I was rocking with you for 10 years and there was something so horrible about you, and I kept doing business with you and getting money with you and shit like that for 10 years…and then, as soon as we part ways, I’m texting people telling them to bring shit up about you, immediately that person has to wear a big red clown nose and big red fucking clown boots, because you’re a fucking clown.”

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images, Mike Marsland / WireImage / Getty Images

Nicki also insinuated that Leigh-Anne should “go about [her] fucking business.” After taking shots at the Little Mix member, she also came to Jesy’s defense. “There’s a lot of women out here in the United States that tan, get bigger lips, get all types of shit done to themselves. I wear straight blonde hair down to my feet when I want to, contacts, whatever. I do whatever the fuck I want. 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.”

She continued, adding, “Unless someone is pretending they’re a race they are not and lying – and I could name a couple that lied to y’all and told y’all they was a certain race that they’re not – sweetheart. Take them text messages and shove it up your fucking ass, because when you do clown shit, I got to treat you and talk to you like a clown.”

Nicki Minaj / Via

Throughout Nicki’s rant, Jesy could be seen laughing along as the rapper took shots at Leigh-Anne’s alleged messages.

“If you want a solo career baby girl, just say that,” Nicki said. “You can go out and put [out] your own music. We’re gonna support you and love you, that’s it.”

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

She then added, “If that’s the case, tell all of these singers you follow and these reality TV people that y’all follow to take off their spray tans and their lips and their everything they’re doing. That means the Black girls can’t wear a long blonde weave down to our feet. So please stop, it screams insecurity, it screams that you’re jealous. Only jealous people do things like this. And now you just look like a big jealous bozo. Please stop. I love you guys, I love all of y’all, but please don’t do this.”

In the video, Jesy doubled down on her defense, saying that her “intention was never to offend people of color” and that she “just wanted to celebrate [the ’90s, 2000’s hip-hop and R&B] era of music” that she loves.

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images for MTV

She also touched on the issue of tanning, saying, “I want people to know that when I was in the video with [Nicki,] I didn’t even have any fake tan on. I’d been in Antigua prior to that for three weeks, and I’m just really lucky as a white girl that when I’m in the sun, I tan so dark. 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, it’s crazy.’ I wanted to come on this live today and show everyone that my hair is naturally curly, I’ve always had curly hair, I got it from my dad.”

Needless to say, both Little Mix and Nicki fans are side-eyeing the live. Some are disappointed that Nicki is putting down a Black woman in the defense of a white woman who has faced Blackfishing allegations since 2018.

@NICKIMINAJ Not you dragging another black woman for a white woman. A white woman who’s been called out by MULTIPLE black women around the world about this. But you wanna push this narrative so bad.

11:36 PM – 11 Oct 2021

Twitter: Nicki Minaj / @DariusMason1 / Via Twitter: @DariusMason1

Others also pointed out the difference between Nicki’s response to Miley Cyrus’ cultural appropriation versus Jesy’s.

Twitter: @manisjules / Via Twitter: @manisjules

Still others identified a pattern with Nicki’s collaborators.

The lengths Nicki Minaj goes to defend her culture vulture collaborators (Jesy, 6ix9ine) says quite a bit about her character and what she stands for

09:31 PM – 11 Oct 2021

Twitter: @yepimthatbih / Via Twitter: @yepimthatbih

And others pointed to the serious intimidation and harassment allegations facing Nicki after her husband, Kenneth Petty, was accused of rape.

Nicki Minaj to hide the emerging allegations towards her husband by stirring some jesy/little mix beef:

12:32 AM – 12 Oct 2021

Twitter: @Justtforfuunn / Via Twitter: @Justtforfuunn

Little Mix fans also refuted Nicki’s claims that Leigh-Anne “waited a decade” to confront Jesy about her Blackfishing. As mentioned previously, Jesy herself said that it was brought up at least prior to her exit from the group.

@NICKIMINAJ funny how jesy confirmed on your stream that leigh didn’t wait a decade isnt it

11:28 PM – 11 Oct 2021

Twitter: @nationalperrie / Via Twitter: @nationalperrie

Some also critiqued Jesy’s reaction when Nicki was laying into Leigh-Anne.

@NICKIMINAJ Jesy Nelson made an entire documentary about the importance of kindness and online trolling, but happily sat there and laughed as Nicki Minaj ripped Leigh-Anne Pinnock to shreds in front of 100k people on their Instagram live.

04:00 AM – 12 Oct 2021

Twitter: Nicki Minaj / @medicencastillo / Via Twitter: @medicencastillo

the reaction of someone who just heard someone insult their “sister” who is literally the most unproblematic person ever and who just had 2 babies… fck jesy nelson, fck nicki minaj and leave our girl leigh-anne out of your lying mouths

09:11 PM – 11 Oct 2021

Twitter: @blessinglwt / Via Twitter: @blessingIwt

Clearly, Leigh-Anne fans are not happy — and also confused.

Twitter: @jisooleigh / Alamy / Via Twitter: @jisooleigh

In the latest update, Little Mix’s publicist, Simon Jones, took to Instagram to address the video, calling it a “backfire.” He then shared a screenshot of Leigh-Anne’s BBC Three documentary Race, Pop & Power, in which she recounted her experiences of racism while in the group.

Meanwhile, Leigh-Anne — and fellow members Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall — have yet to publicly address the controversy. But we’ll be sure to keep you updated if they do.

Callum Mills / MTV via Getty Images

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