Pop star Jesy Nelson is brushing off claims of 'Blackfishing' as she's accused of cultural appropriation and purposely making herself look racially ambiguous in her new music video.
The former Little Mix member's solo debut 'Boyz', which features Nicki Minaj and samples P Diddy's 2001 hit 'Bad Boy For Life', sees her sing in what has been dubbed a "Blaccent" and features lyrics about liking her men "so hood, so good, so damn taboo".
The music video has been dubbed "four minutes of blatant cultural appropriation". It's being criticised for "fetishising Black men" and "profiting off Black culture", with some viewers shocked to find out Nelson is not of mixed race.
The aesthetic of the music video came as a surprise to many who noted that Nelson had been accused of 'Blackfishing' on more than one occasion previously. 'Blackfishing' refers to non-Black influencers and celebrities who appropriate certain styles of make-up, use fake tan and cosmetic procedures, and make fashion choices to appear Black or racially ambiguous.
Speaking to the Guardian in August this year, Nelson responded to a comment about blackfishing by saying she would "never want to offend anyone" and "wasn't aware that was how people felt".
In a more recent interview with Vulture given weeks before the release of 'Boyz', Nelson fought back against the claims, saying she was "very aware she was a white British woman" and had "never said that she wasn't".
"The whole time I was in Little Mix I never got any of that. And then I came out of [the band] and people all of a sudden were saying it. I wasn't on social media around that time, so I let my team [deal with it], because that was when I'd just left," she said.
"But I mean, like, I love Black culture. I love Black music. That's all I know; it's what I grew up on."
According to Vulture, Nelson declined requests for follow-up interviews to discuss 'Blackfishing' in further detail, but did admit her "team" had deleted comments on the topic from her social media channels previously to "protect her mental health".
A statement given by her publicist on her behalf reads: "I take all those comments made seriously. I would never intentionally do anything to make myself look racially ambiguous, so that's why I was initially shocked that the term was directed at me."