The album cover for Pusha T’s “Daytona” album is causing derision online and now, Whitney Houston’s family is speaking out over the image of her drug-ridden bathroom being front and center on the cover.
On Thursday, May 24, Pusha T told “The Angie Martinez Show” that Kaye West, who produced his new album, made an 11th-hour decision to change the cover of Pusha’s third album.
“He changed my artwork at 1:00 a.m., ‘cause he wasn’t feeling it,” Pusha told the radio host of the cover that West paid $85,000 to use. “It was pictures we had all agreed on.”
After celebrities and fans alike slammed the distasteful album cover, one of the late vocalist’s cousins has spoken out.
“Nobody in their right mind would do this, and to promote an album?” said Damon Elliott, Houston’s first cousin, to Bossip Saturday, May 26. “Is this what the music business has come to?”
“I can’t describe how disgusted I am,” he added, accusing both West and Pusha of exploiting the tragedy and forcing the family to relive traumatic experiences that led to Houston’s death in 2012.
Several folks online speculated that West obtained permission from Houston’s family to use the photo.
If Whitney Houston’s family did not have a problem letting Kanye use the picture for Pusha’s album… why do you have such a huge problem with it ?
— 📱Litty City📱 (@Xian_Bell) May 25, 2018
It’s not that serious. When the picture surfaced online, out of respect for Whitney Houston‘s name Kanye offered to pay her family for the rights to use the picture. They accepted it so nobody is mad about this except you
— 6/07 🇳🇬 (@cvped) May 25, 2018
Yet Elliot, who is the son of Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick, said the family didn’t know about West’s plans to use the image and that he only learned of it from his young daughter.
“He doesn’t realize what he’s doing to the babies – to the family – that’s the only reason I got really upset,” he said.
Still, People magazine reported it’s not clear if West licensed the photo from the National Enquirer, which plastered the image on its cover in 2006, or Houston’s sister-in-law Tina Brown, the sister of the singer’s ex-husband Bobby Brown.
Now Elliot, who has worked with West in the past, is demanding that the artwork is changed.
“I said it and I mean it, I want him to change the artwork,” he said. “First of all, it’s none of his business. I know that it was a photo that was licensed, but who would do that?! It’s sick.”
Elliot also questioned how sound West’s mind is. The rapper’s mental health has been called into question lately after he proclaimed that 400 years of slavery sounds “like a choice” and boasted his support for Donald Trump.
“I think Kanye needs to get checked in somewhere,” the Grammy-winning producer said. “Addiction and mental illness are real, and you’re witnessing it at the highest point. And I’m not here to bash him, I’m just speaking truth. I can’t imagine that he would just do this for the publicity.”
However, the “I Will Always Love You” singer’s nephew has a decidedly different take on the issue.
“Not to be divisive, but I’m of a different mindset when it comes to situations like this,” Gary Michael Houston, the son of Houston’s older brother Michael, told Good Morning America in a Saturday, May 26 statement. “People will automatically look to people like Pusha T and Kanye West and try to place blame or say they have ill or malicious intent to gain publicity. But I get it. I get the correlation (sans my aunt but the photo itself). And I actually love the album.
“Bottom line — they are artists and in this day and age, if they can afford to pay someone for usage of that photograph in order to convey a visual message to accompany their musicianship…then so be it,” he added.
the bigger issue is deeper and one that most people (including folks who claim to be so heartbroken and traumatized by the usage of the photo) choose to conveniently ignore and bypass.”
He added that it’s “more of a travesty” that someone violated Houston’s trust, took the photo and sold it to the tabloids over a decade ago.
“People should research that — because whoever exposed it are the people who violated her trust, mistreated her, and who should ultimately be held accountable for contributing to circumstances surrounding her demise,” he said, noting that he and the estate are focused on celebrating her legacy and “nothing else matters.”