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Kendall and Kylie Jenner have pulled their line of rap-inspired T-shirts off shelves after the mother of legendary rapper Notorious B.I.G. blasted the pair on Instagram for using her son’s image without the permission of his estate.
The reality stars recently released a “Rap vs. Rock” collection of shirts from their clothing line, Kendall + Kylie. Each tee had a black and white image of a music icon like Ozzy Osbourne or Tupac printed on it, and then a neon image of either Kylie, Kendall, or the letters “kk” superimposed on top. The shirts cost $125 a pop, and immediately stirred criticism on Twitter for being culturally appropriative. In other words: They mined black culture for things that seem chic instead of actually celebrating and uplifting the people who contribute to that culture.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner exploiting very important culture yet again for $125 a shirt pic.twitter.com/vHhRFBthvJ— Stage Dive (@stagedive_tv) June 29, 2017
When you ask Kendall and Kylie stans to name 10 songs after buying the vintage tee's pic.twitter.com/RoJPEpVp7n— Wang (@woahalexander) June 29, 2017
This shit is wild disrespectful and tacky https://t.co/T2ukBdnehu— ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROAZ™ (@broazay) June 28, 2017
It wasn’t just hip-hop culture that people were upset at them for hijacking—on the rock end of the “Rap vs. Rock” collection, Sharon Osbourne essentially accused the Jenners of appropriating being talented. “You haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons,” she tweeted.
Girls, you haven’t earned the right to put your face with musical icons. Stick to what you know…lip gloss. pic.twitter.com/BhmuUVrDBn— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) June 29, 2017
No voice in the conversation was as loud as Biggie’s mother Violetta Wallace’s, though. Her son and Tupac were killed within six months of each other in 1996 and 1997, and although both of their faces appeared on shirts in the collection, their estates were apparently never notified that the men’s images were being used (not to mention, you know, offered residuals).
“I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this,” Wallace said in an Instagram caption Thursday afternoon. “The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt.”
“This is disrespectful, disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!” she concluded.
I am not sure who told @kyliejenner and @kendalljenner that they had the right to do this. The disrespect of these girls to not even reach out to me or anyone connected to the estate baffles me. I have no idea why they feel they can exploit the deaths of 2pac and my Son Christopher to sell a t-shirt. This is disrespectful , disgusting, and exploitation at its worst!!!
A post shared by Voletta Wallace (@volettawallace) on
“These designs were not well thought out and we deeply apologize to anyone that has been upset and/or offended, especially to the families of the artists,” she wrote in an iPhone note. “We are huge fans of their music, and it was not our intention to disrespect these cultural icons in anyway… We will use this as an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and again, we are very sorry.”
Things are far from over, though.
Notorious B.I.G.’s estate released a statement to People following Kendall’s tweet: “While we appreciate that the Jenners have made an apology and pulled the unlawful and unauthorized items, this matter has yet to be resolved.”
We didn’t go to law school or anything, but it sounds like a suit might be imminent.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.