UPDATE (3AM ET): Skepta has addressed the growing backlash against his controversial single artwork for "Gas Me Up."

In a statement posted to his social media late Tuesday night (Jan. 9), the U.K. rapper and producer assured fans the image was not meant to be "taken offensively" and was a reference to "the '80s, skinhead [and] football culture," as well as his parents "coming to the U.K." — not a reference to the Holocaust.

"I have removed it and I vow to be more mindful going forward," Skepta added.


However, in a later update, Skepta added that he isn't comfortable with having his art "policed."

"I can honestly see how my single artwork without context can be deemed offensive, especially in a time like this, but again that was not my intention. But after some thought I don't feel like I could continue being the artist you all know and love if my art is policed. I have to quit if I can't express my art as I see it," he wrote, sharing a moodboard of images that inspired the artwork for "Gas Me Up."

It's unclear if Skepta plans to release the single alongside its original artwork, though the song is still due out Jan. 26 "as planned."


ORIGINAL STORY (6:30PM ET): Skepta came under fire this week after sharing the artwork for his upcoming single, "Gas Me Up."

Posted to his Instagram account on Monday (Jan. 8), the since-deleted image featured an over-the-shoulder photo of a group of young men with shaved heads all wearing the same uniform. One man's head features a tattoo of the words "Gas Me Up."

The artwork was created by London-based artist Gabriel Moses. PopCrush is choosing not to share the image here.

Many criticized Skepta's single artwork for allegedly glorifying Nazi imagery and making light of the Holocaust through imagery that appeared to recall Nazi concentration camps and the imprisonment and murder of Jewish Europeans during World War II.

Notably, the shaved heads of the men featured in the single artwork appeared to recall the treatment of Jewish people imprisoned during the Holocaust, who had their hair shaved off against their will.

Meanwhile, the single title itself, "Gas Me Up," draws a sinister parallel to prisoners who were exterminated in Nazi gas chambers in the 1940s. (In modern slang, the phrase "gas [someone] up" means to fuel their ego or excite someone.)

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"The [connotation] and imagery this conveys is of Jewish concentration camp captives with shaved heads with 'Gas Me Up' tattooed to the back of their shaved head? One of the most offensive and distasteful artworks ever. Embarrassing," one user commented on Skepta's original Instagram post featuring the artwork, which has since been removed.

"Disgusting cover and if connotations are not on purpose, pure ignorance," another wrote.

"Bro? This supposed to be a Holocaust reference? So wrong," another user shared.

"Not cool with the Auschwitz style imagery on the artwork man, not cool at all," someone else commented.

"Never forget those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. For you to profit off this image is horrendous," another person wrote.

Many comments in a Reddit thread discussing the image's controversy also seem to agree the artwork appeared to many as a nod to the Holocaust.

Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and their allies killed nearly 6 million Jewish people. This genocide, known as the Holocaust, is widely regarded as one of the most tragic and heinous acts in human history.

Considering the sharp rise in antisemitism in recent months, it's alarming to see a musician use imagery so closely connected to the Holocaust and Jewish concentration camps, even if unintentional.

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Gallery Credit: Erica Russell

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