Nicki Minaj has always been seen as a controversial figure in the music industry, and she often sings unapologetically using language that some might object to. She has recently issued a public apology for her recent video for a song called "Only" with Drake, L'il Wayne, and Chris Brown. This video features imagery that hearkens back to Nazi Germany propaganda, and the apology is a response to the negative feedback from fans as well as from the Anti-Defamation League.
The video for "Only" uses very simplistic animation as well as lyrics printed right on screen. The lyrics are very explicit, which is not the target of most concerns. The real concern is how it shows Minaj in situations where banners fly bearing her "NM" initials that look very similar to Nazi Swastikas.
Nicki Minaj stated on Twitter that she is "very sorry and takes full responsibility if it has offended anyone". She also stated that the video was not her idea, and both the producer and person in charge of overseeing the lyric video is one of her best friends, and is also Jewish.
Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League has stated that "Nicki Minaj's new video disturbingly evokes Third Reich propaganda and constitutes a new low for pop culture's exploitation of Nazi symbolism." Foxman, who was a Holocaust survivor, also states that "the irony should be lost on no one that this video debuted on the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 'night of broken glass' pogrom that signaled the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust."
Minaj also claims that the video wasn't inspired by Nazi propaganda videos, but the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show Metalocalypse. She also says it was inspired by Sin City, the Frank Miller comic book (later turned into movies) that is mostly in black-and-white, like the "Only" video. The faces in the "Only" video do look like something that the famed comic-book artist Miller would draw, and the artist has been accused of being a fascist as well. Miller's recent graphic novel Holy Terror has been accused of being prejudiced toward those of Arab and Muslim descent. Holy Terror can be interpreted in various ways, and the prejudicial views of its main characters toward Arabs can be seen as a satire of post 9/11 stereotypes. It is possible that the video for "Only" is meant to satire or criticize some kind of lifestyle that might be worse than the Nazis.
The video for "Only" has other controversial images other than the banners reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The shots of Minaj walking through rows of soldiers wearing a skintight catsuit could be seen as supporting various fetishes, but this doesn't seem to invoke as much criticism as the Nazi allusions. The constant use of the n-word hasn't created as much controversy, not to mention the overt references to Minaj's sexuality.
Considering that many musicians "cross the line" in their lyrics, it is often difficult to find situations in which audiences cry "foul" for being universally offended. Besides the apology, it is not known if Minaj will do another version of "Only" in response to the controversy.