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The stories sprouting from the release of Pusha-T’s DAYTONA include the revival of his feud with Drake, the stories of how Kanye West produced the album, and, most controversially, Push and Kanye’s choice of album art.
In several recent interviews, Pusha-T has explained that he had already chosen a photo that he was happy with when Kanye called him in the middle of the night to suggest a new photo, which turned out to be Whitney Houston’s bathroom covered in drug paraphernalia. Push didn’t want to pay the $85,000 for the rights to the photo, but Kanye decided to foot the bill and the rest is history. Push has said he’s happy with the cover, which he says reflects the “organized chaos” of the album well. However, others—including Houston’s cousin, Damon Elliott—are not so happy with the choice.
“To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it’s absolutely disgusting,” Elliott told People. “It hurt my family and my daughter. It’s petty. It’s tacky.” Houston was found dead in 2012 in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Her autopsy showed she had marijuana, Xanax, Benadryl, and other medication in her system.
“I immediately got sick to my stomach because it took me right back to six years ago,” Elliot said of the first time he saw the cover of DAYTONA.
Elliott, who works in the music business, says he felt an added sting because he has worked with West before on a Keyshia Cole song.
“I’ve watched the train wreck happening, but I didn’t think [Kanye West would] go this far in invading someone’s family privacy,” Elliott added.
Elliott also added that West did not speak to him after licensing the photo, and he first heard about the album art from his daughter. “I just want him to tell me why he did it. What is the creative side of this? What’s the point? It shows no creativity.”
“What were you thinking? Did you think this through? And if you did, why did you do this?” Elliot asked. “Because 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.”
It not clear whether West paid the National Enquirer, the tabloid that first published the photo, or Houston’s sister-in-law Tina Brown.