Former Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson came under fire after the release of her solo debut single, “Boyz”, because of her perceived blackfishing. But the mistake didn’t come out of nowhere: Nelson was warned about the offensive nature of blackfishing by her Little Mix bandmates before the British music star left the group.

Jesy Nelson was criticized for her ‘Boyz’ video

Little Mix was first brought together on The X Factor a decade ago. Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall, and Perrie Edwards wowed audiences around the world and became the first girl group to win the UK version of the show.

In 2020, Nelson announced that she was leaving the group to pursue her own solo career. In October 2021, she released “Boyz,” a collaboration with Nicki Minaj, as her solo debut single.

Nelson was lambasted after the video was released for her apparent blackfishing and use of stereotypes categorizing Black men as dangerous and taboo.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock warned Jesy Nelson about blackfishing before she left the group

After the video’s release, Nelson went live on Instagram with Minaj herself to address the backlash that they’d both received. “I was in a group with two women of color for nine years and it was never brought up to me up until the last music video that I did with them when she messaged me and said, ‘Jesy, I want to make you aware’… [about blackfishing],’” Nelson said.

The group’s three members then told their side of the story to Stella magazine. “We don’t want to talk about the video, or be critical, but one thing we will clarify regarding the blackfishing situation is that Jesy was approached by the group in a very friendly, educational manner,” Thirlwall said honestly.

Pinnock echoed a similar sentiment. “Capitalizing on aspects of Blackness without having to endure the daily realities of the Black experience is problematic and harmful to people of color,” she said. “We think it’s absolutely not OK to use harmful stereotypes. There’s so much to say on that subject that it’s hard to sum up in a sound bite.”  

Nicki Minaj defended Nelson — and Pinnock responded

During the now-infamous Instagram Live, Minaj took aim at Pinnock for alleged text messages that she sent an Instagram content creator about Nelson’s blackfishing, asking them to discuss how Nelson was a “horrible person.”

“Take them text messages and shove it up your f***ing a**, because when you do clown s*** I got to treat you and talk to you like you a clown,” Minaj said frankly. “If you was in this woman’s group and you ain’t talk about this s*** for 10 years… and as soon as you see she got a video coming out with Nicki Minaj and Puffy, now you sending text messages and all this s***.”

Pinnock subtly addressed both Minaj and Nelson at her 30th birthday party in October.

“I’m 30 years old. I know my character, you know my character, anyone that meets me knows my f—ing character. That’s all I care about,” Pinnock said tearily according to The Mirror. “I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved. The most beautiful fiancé [Andre Gray], who I’m still obsessed with even after five years. I love you. And the two most beautiful, perfect babies. Everything I stand for, everything I’m fighting for, it’s for them [the twins].”

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