British artist Stormzy isn't pleased with the latest issue of NME magazine. According to Mashable, the magazine featured the hip hop artist on the cover of this week's issue, which features a story on depression. Over the his face, the cover copy reads, "Depression: It's time to talk." The word "depression" lands squarely on Stormzy's chest, and according to the musician himself, he did not give permission for the magazine to use his likeness. Now, he's speaking up on Twitter about the mishap.
"You lot know I don't rant or open my mouth up for no reason but serious @NME magazine are the biggest bunch of sly, foul PAIGONS," he wrote Thursday morning. (According to Urban Dictionary, the word "paigon," which is British slang, refers to a traitor.) He continued, "I KNOW it will help others but just imagine a personal battle of yours being published on the front of a magazine without your permission."
Stormzy, born Michael Omari, has been fairly open about his struggle with depression. In an interview with Channel 4 on March 1, the grime artist said, "I feel like I always come across confidently and happy, and I’ve always made sure that I don’t promote [the] negative." But he was clear: He has depression, and he felt it was important to discuss his illness publicly to remove the stigma that accompanies mental illness. He added, "What convinced me to talk about it was the fact that if there’s anyone out there going through it, I think to see that I went through it would help."
As he stated, Stormzy doesn't seem to take issue with his image being associated with depression. Allegedly, the magazine asked if they could use his face on the cover, and he said no. When the magazine published the issue, they were, according to the musician, using his image despite his refusal.
He wrote in a following tweet to the magazine, "it is kool [sic] to use my me as a poster boy for such a sensitive issue without permission? You lot have been begging me to be on your cover."
NME magazine hasn't been mum on the subject, either. The two Twitter accounts have engaged in an active discussion on the social media site.
"Hi Stormzy, Editor Mike here. I’m sorry that you didn’t know your image would be our cover. Our intentions were only positive..." the account began. "We were inspired by your words and wanted to use them as a springboard to talk about depression and how it shouldn’t be taboo."
The account — or editor Mike — added, "We used your image as we felt it would resonate most with our readers, and I can only apologise again that you didn’t know..."
They apologized one more time for good measure: "I'm really sorry this has happened. We're a free magazine and were not trying to shift copies, just talk about something important."
But Stormzy isn't buying it. He claimed that they're not a non-profit organization.
He alleged: "DEAD. You're NOT a non-profit organisation. The more copies you dish out the more you charge for advertising. You will make money from this."
NME, which stands for New Musical Express, does not charge for copies of the magazine. But it's unclear whether or not the publication is a non-profit or not. Regardless, though, it is poor etiquette to use an image without permission. In fact, in most situations, it's not legal. Stormzy's fans appear to have sided with him on Twitter, and the line in the sand seems clear: NME Magazine erred.