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2021 Global Citizen Live: New York

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Meek Mill recently released his fifth studio album, Expensive Pain, and the cover art has received some mixed reviews. The cover caught the eye of many after it was plastered on a bus that was driving through Los Angeles, California. The cover is animated and includes illustrations of naked Black women bending over, showing their breasts and behinds around a drawing of what is supposed to be Meek Mill.

A white man even found it offensive and went viral after he posted a video calling the album cover disgusting and calling for Black women to stand up to the Philly native. He isn’t the only one that couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

The kicker is that a Black woman, an artist named Nina Chanel Abney, is actually the one behind the album art.

One person criticized it being on a bus, making it more likely that their child would see the graphic images.

“That part. Like. As an album cover. Idc cause what are the chances of my 4yo seeing a Meek Mill album cover…..never would happen. But seeing a city bus, we see those everyday. There’s a place for it and public transportation ain’t it.”

Someone else also disagreed with the cover art saying that it’s setting a poor example for young girls.

“That Meek Mill bus is out of control. Dude recording had a point, little girls will see that and want to follow. That does not set a good example for society and I’m appalled they approved that. I’ll be honest I didn’t know the album cover was that detailed.”

Another woman expressed being weary of the sexualization of Black women.

“Imma just say it , I f***** hate how black women are hyper-sexualized in the media. That Meek Mill bus is absolutely dreadful, do y’all see White, Asian, Hispanic or any other race put out art images of their women naked on city busses? No didn’t f****** think so.”

While some found the art cringy, there were people who weren’t outraged at all. One person tweeted that if you support other risque images of Black women then you can’t condemn Mill’s cover.

“Do you or do you not support song and visual like WAP of Cardi B and Megan The Stallion? If you do then leave Meek Mill and the Black woman artist who made the painting alone if no go after Megan & Cardi also PERIOD.”

An Instagram user pointed out that women release and post sexual images everyday on social media, so why is the “Going Bad” rapper being ridiculed?

“Y’all mad at him for what most of the influencers put out on social media on a daily basis!,” they commented.

When it comes to the criticism regarding children seeing those images, another user said it’s parents responsibility to address images like that regardless of where it’s seen but did agree that it doesn’t belong on a bus.

“A woman naked on IG is a private thing that is only on your phone. Yes kids can see it. But it’s still private & if you raise your kids properly, they will know how to process that info & not learn it from their friends. Meek Mill’s cover shouldn’t be on a bus no matter who did it.”

What a double-edged sword. I see this in two ways.

If Meek Mill would have had white women or racially ambiguous women X-rated album cover, I bet he would receive backlash for not loving or appreciating Black women or being colorist. For this cover he called on Abney, a Black artist, surely thinking he was doing something notable and is still being penalized for it.

On the flip side, Black women have been sexualized for centuries dating back to the time of the minstrel show and the Jezebel stereotype. In hip-hop, women have been degraded on countless songs and used as props for many music videos for the past three decades. This isn’t the first time Black women have been depicted in such a way on an album cover either (Remember 2 Live Crew?) The Expensive Pain album art shows that the sexualization of Black women is something that is just embedded in hip-hop and isn’t budging no matter how much we call for it to be uprooted.

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