The infamous music mogul recently had the not-bright idea to use a photo of the late singer’s bathroom covered in drug-covered spoons and drug paraphernalia as the cover “art” for Pusha T’s new album Daytona, which he also produced. Pusha T recently shared how the last-minute cover came to be in an interview on The Angie Martinez Show.
“One a.m., my phone rings. No caller ID. [The caller says,] ‘Hey, yeah, I think we should change the artwork. And I like this other artwork. And this other artwork is 85 grand,’” Pusha T recalled on the radio show. “I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to pay for that and I wasn’t even going to ask you to pay for that. We picked what we picked, it’s here, it’s ready.’”
According to Pusha T, the caller (i.e. West) insisted, and then said: “No, this is what people need to see to go along with this music. Imma pay for that.”
But yeah. No, Kanye. Despite what that little voice inside your head was telling you, we didn’t need to see that photo along with Pusha T’s music. His album would’ve been just fine without it. And with the extra promotional help from Drake, there would’ve been no shortage of media attention coming his way, strictly from the lyrics alone.
Of course, Houston’s family agrees. Her cousin Damon Elliott recently spoke with People about West’s decision to use the photo and didn’t mince words about how “tacky” the move was either.
“I immediately got sick to my stomach because it took me right back to six years ago,” says Elliot, who first learned of the cover from his frantic daughter. In reference to West and his recent social media tirades, Elliot continued: “I’ve watched the train wreck happening, but I didn’t think he’d go this far in invading someone’s family privacy. To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it’s absolutely disgusting. It hurt my family and my daughter. It’s petty. It’s tacky.”
Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
West paid the $85,000 (£63,000) to license the photo, but it’s unclear of who exactly sold it to him. The photo, taken by one of Houston’s family members without her permission in 2006, was purchased by The National Enquirer amid the singer’s well-publicised struggles with drug addiction. Six years later Houston was found dead in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Her death was ruled an accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use also to blame.
Some Pusha T fans have tried to defend the use of the photo on social media, calling the move “genius” and necessary given the themes explored on album. To all of those people, I say: There are better methods for selling an album than shock value, especially when it comes at the expense of someone no longer here to defend themselves.
Somebody please share that little nugget with West for the next time he decides to play creative director.