Nicki Minaj has apologized for using an image of Malcolm X in conjunction with her new song invoking the N-word.

"I apologize to the Malcolm X estate if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued," she wrote on Instagram, in reference to her tying the song's title, "Lookin Ass (N-word)," with a photo from a 1964 Ebony magazine showing the black civil rights leader looking out a window while holding an M-1 rifle.

"Do you have a problem with me referring to the people Malcolm X was ready to pull his gun out on as Lookin Ass (N-word)?" she wrote, in response to a number of comments -- some supportive, some highly critical.

"Well, I apologize," Minaj continued. "That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single. This is a conversation. Not a single. I am in the video shooting at Lookin Ass (N-word) and there happened to be an iconic photo of Malcolm X ready to do the same thing for what he believed in!!!! It is in no way to undermine his efforts and legacy."

Some of her followers felt otherwise, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"No matter which way you look at it, it's wrong and it's ignorant," a reader with the handle Cyd_Charrise posted. "It's time that black people wake up and look at themselves in the mirror and see that hatred still exists because of the color of our skin. When we display this ... behavior, what do we expect when our sons and brothers are getting murdered in these streets? No one is making any conscious effort to change anything in these communities, instead they pollute it with this filth."

Minaj concluded her message, which is accompanied by a new photo of her holding a machine gun, saying: "The (N) word ... causes so much debate in our community while the (N-word) behavior gets praised and worship. Let's not. Apologies again to his family. I have nothing but respect and adoration for u. The photo was removed hours ago. Thank you."

Contact Tony Hicks at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.