Damon Elliott, the cousin of the late Whitney Houston, slammed Kanye West for using the photo of Houston's drug-riddled bathroom for Pusha T's new album art. Elliott is the son of Dionne Warwick, one of Houston's first cousins.
According to Pusha T, West spent a whopping $85,000 to license the image for his new album, "Daytona," which Kanye produced. The photo was reportedly taken in 2006 and appeared in the National Enquirer at the time.
"[My daughter was] frantic. She sent me this picture from the album cover and I immediately got sick to my stomach because it took me right back to six years ago," Elliott told PEOPLE.
"To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it's absolutely disgusting," he continued. "It hurt my family and my daughter. It's petty. It's tacky. What is the creative side of this? What's the point? It shows no creativity...You're hurting people. It knocked the wind out of me last night. When someone passes, you try to mourn and move on and remember the good times."
"I was actually in shock because I'm in the music business," Elliott added, before referencing West's recent string of bizarre behavior. "I've watched the train wreck happening, but I didn't think he'd go this far in invading someone's family privacy."
According to Pusha T, West changed the artwork to this photo at the last minute. "He changed my artwork last night at 1 a.m. He wasn't feeling it," he explained to Angie Martinez. "The [original] artwork — it was pictures that we all agreed on. He picked the photographer, I took these pictures, I was like, 'Yo, these are fresh.; I picked all of these pictures out, he had a little edit to it, how he wanted the actual grading of the picture to look. Picked the picture, great, we look, boom, boom, boom, it's good."
The reason behind the change: "This is what people need to see to go along with this music," Pusha said West told him.
Twitter users weren't thrilled with the album cover, with many questioning why West had to use that specific photo for the art. Check out a sampling of the outrage below:
Kanye West is exploiting Whitney Houston's mental illness and drug addiction and is calling it “art”. This is a man who has struggled with phycological disorders himself. It blows my mind that he think what he is doing is “edgy” or “cool”. It's disgusting.
I don't like this. Hurt and exploit your own for your art. I don't like this, and I support you as a free thinker. Whitney's stuff is her own. Don't bring up their stuff for your own sake. I don't like this at all. Do better. Don't use her.
To disrespect a titan like Whitney Houston, to reduce her legacy to a single image of a place and time in her life, is EXACTLY what Kanye seems to complain that the media does to him all the time. Indeed, the irony.
Y'all cancelled Lorde when she unintentionally quoted Whitney's lyrics, cancelled Taylor when she raised her voice against that mysogynistic lyrics, statue that Kanye used in his MV but y'all are silent when he used WHITNEY HOUSTON'S DRUGS PIC AS HIS ALBUM COVER?