Inside Nicki Minaj's 'Cultural Appropriation' Dispute With Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan was confronted by Nicki Minaj on social media on Tuesday, after it was revealed that he was launching a new rum brand called J'Ouvert.

The Black Panther star's girlfriend Lori Harvey took to Instagram to share a series of snapshots from the launch, as she gushed about his new venture.

"Congratulations on the launch of your rum baby!!! I'm so proud of you!!!" Harvey captioned the images, according to screenshots shared on social media.

However, criticism soon mounted when the screenshots were circulated online, as members of the Caribbean community accused the actor of cultural appropriation through his choice of name.

J'Ouvert is a pre-dawn Carnival commencement celebration with roots in the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago that dates back to the 1800s.

And amid the snowballing criticism, Minaj—who was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago—took to Instagram on Tuesday to urge Jordan to change the name.

Rapper Minaj wrote: "I'm sure MBJ didn't intentionally do anything he thought Caribbean ppl would find offensive, but now that you are aware, change the name & continue to flourish & prosper."

She also shared another Instagram user's post on the historical significance of J'Ouvert, which is now observed in Caribbean communities around the world.

The statement read, in part: "J'Ouvert also know as jouvay originated in Trinidad with the festivities of Canboulay, which was a time when sugarcane fields caught on fire and slaves were forced to harvest the [remaining] crops before complete destruction.

"That event was reenacted and male slaves were mocked by their masters. However after emancipation the slaves mocked the masters mocking them. The festival begins way before the crack of dawn and proceeds a little [past] sun up.

What’s next? A free doubles with every #JouvertRum purchase?! 🥴😭 someone point out Michael B Jordan’s Trini roots fast for me please!!! Cuz I’m not understanding this shit. Is it his grandma who makes the rum cakes??? pic.twitter.com/7Q8E1uowmU

— Hot & Unbothered 🤎 🇬🇩🇬🇾 (@AllianaSabrina) June 20, 2021

"It is the event that truly starts the main Monday and Tuesday Carnival street parade events in Trinidad. It was later adopted by other Caribbean islands as they experienced emancipation throughout different periods in history.

"[It's] not just about the name its what it representing pertaining to enslavement and freedom."

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Jordan released a statement on his Instagram Stories, in which he apologized and announced that he was planning to change the name of his new tipple.

"I just want to say on behalf of myself & my partners, our intention was never to offend or hurt a culture (we love & respect) & hoped to celebrate & shine a positive light on," he said. "Last few days has been a lot of listening. A lot of learning & engaging in countless community conversations...

"We hear you. I hear you & want to be clear that we are in the process of renaming. We sincerely apologize & look forward to introducing a brand we can all be proud of."

Before Jordan's statement was released, a petition was launched on change.org, urging him to ditch plans to use the name J'Ouvert.

Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon also waded into the row, telling local publication Newsday this week that the copyright issue was "of extreme concern."

"The first thing is to gather the information to see if it is in fact so," said Gopee-Scoon. "Then working together with the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, we'll do the necessary investigation and, as always, seek to support anything that is Trinidad but at the same time protect what is ours.

"This is of keen interest, not only to the Ministry of Trade and Industry but also to the intellectual property office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. We all have an interest. Trinidad and Tobago is our interest."

Newsweek has contacted representatives for Michael B. Jordan and Nicki Minaj for comment.

Nicki Minaj and Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan (R) announced on Wednesday morning that he was changing the name of his new rum brand from J'Ouvert, after Nicki Minaj (L) shared a post detailing the cultural significance of the celebration while also urging him to reconsider his plans. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Bobby Bank/GC Images