- Jesy Nelson released her first solo single, “Boyz,” on Friday.
- Nelson, 30, denied criticism that she was “Blackfishing” in the music video.
- Nelson left the British girl group “Little Mix” in December 2020 after nine years.
On Friday, the former “Little Mix” singer unveiled the new track and accompanying music video 10 months after leaving the British girl group.
The video, which featured Nicki Minaj and a cameo from Diddy, gained more than 3.7 million views in one day — but also garnered some criticism from online fans.
According to Vulture and Twitter posts, some felt that Nelson engaged in Blackfishing — or when a non-Black person alters their appearance to seem Black or racially ambiguous — in the video. The term was coined by freelance writer Wanna Thompson, who wrote a Twitter thread about the issue in 2018.
As Vulture’s Douglas Greenwood notes, Nelson “sing-talks, arguably in a Blaccent,” with the lyrics “So hood, so good, so damn taboo / Know you know how to please me.”
Nelson shared her thoughts about the Blackfishing suggestions to Vulture.
“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,” Nelson said. “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. But I mean, like, I love Black culture. I love Black music. That’s all I know; it’s what I grew up on.”
When asked if she had deleted Instagram comments from fans accusing her of Blackfishig, Nelson said she was unaware of the comments and “maybe it was my team.”
The article stated that Nelson canceled two follow-up calls with Vulture to discuss Blackfishing and identity in more detail.
Nelson’s publicist later told Vulture in a statement on her behalf: “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.”
Representatives for Nelson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Nelson isn’t the first celebrity to be accused of Blackfishing. Recently, rapper Iggy Azalea recently defended herself against criticism while Rita Ora faced backlash in 2020.
Insider’s Dana Givens reported that Blackfishing could have real-world consequences. While white influencers can “Blackfish” to gain profit, Black creators still struggle to meet the same financial compensation.