Canadian rapper Drake has been forced to offer an explanation after a photo of him donning blackface emerged online.
The image, taken by Toronto-based photographer David Leyes in 2008, emerged thanks to a heated rap beef Drake has been in with fellow hip-hop artist Pusha T.
- Drake stops Sydney show to call out fan's inappropriate touching
- Drake gifts hotel maid day of luxury with spa, shopping spree
- 'You're hurting people': Whitney Houston's family livid at Pusha T album cover
Pusha T, who has himself attracted controversy for using a photo of Whitney Houston's drug-strewn bathroom for the album cover of his recent release Daytona, calls Drake out on the record.
Ever since Daytona dropped, the pair have been trading insults - a sparring match that has since culminated in the release of the blackface photo.
Blackface originated in minstrel shows in the 1800s, where it perpetuated negative racial stereotypes of black people. As a result, modern-day usage is highly contentious.
But Drake said in a Twitter post that his usage was actually to bring attention to "how African Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment".
In the Instagram story, Drake said while "everyone is enjoying the circus" that is his and Pusha T's fight, the explanation for the image is simple.
"Me and my best friend at the time Mazin Elsadig, who is an actor from Sudan, were attempting to use our voice to bring awareness to the issues we dealt with all the time as black actors at auditions," he wrote.
"This was to highlight and raise our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and to make a point that the struggle for black actors had not changed much."
Pusha T has not yet responded to Drake's explanation.