Rapper Nicki Minaj has taken down the online artwork for her new single after her use of an iconic image of Malcolm X sparked controversy following its release on Wednesday (12Feb14).

The Starships hitmaker unveiled the promo for Lookin' A** N**ga on her social networking pages, but the cover art attracted criticism over the use of a picture of the late civil rights leader, holding a gun and peering through curtains.

The image, which originally appeared in Ebony magazine in 1964, prompted a backlash on the web, with some critics accusing Minaj of disrespecting the groundbreaking activist days before the 49th anniversary of his death (21Feb14).

Kimberly Foster, editor of the black culture blog ForHarriet.com, writes, "As a fan of Nicki Minaj, I can say that the artwork is tasteless", while HipHopWired.com writer Alvin Aqua Blanco states, "To equate a man that literally died for his cause - the advancement of human rights for people of color - is just wrong on multiple levels."

Minaj has yet to speak out about the controversy, but it appears she has taken note of the comments - the original Twitter.com link to the artwork was no longer active on Thursday (13Feb14).