Kanye West paid $85,000 to use Whitney Houston bathroom photo on Pusha T album

Laura Snapes
‘This is what people need to see to go along with this music’ ... Pusha T at New York fashion week in 2016. Photograph: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

Kanye West paid $85,000 (£63,640) to license an image of Whitney Houston’s drug-strewn bathroom for the cover of Pusha T’s new album, Daytona. Pusha T told radio host Angie Martinez that West, who produced Daytona, changed the artwork at the last minute, calling him at 1am to declare: “This is what people need to see to go along with this music.”

The photograph was taken in Houston’s Atlanta home in 2006 after an alleged drug binge and depicts paraphernalia apparently related to the consumption of crack cocaine. The image was released to the public after Houston’s death at the Beverly Hilton hotel in February 2012, which was caused by drowning and the effects of coronary heart disease and cocaine consumption.

Daytona, originally titled King Push, was expected to follow King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, released in December 2015, but was delayed. In April this year West announced in the midst of a Twitter spree that the album would be released on 25 May via Def Jam and his own label Good Music. Daytona is the first album to be released from sessions at West’s retreat in Wyoming. “We’ve spent a year and a half digging for samples and writing,” he tweeted of the record.

Pusha T told Martinez that West was still making changes to the album a day prior to its release, as West did with his own album The Life of Pablo, which he continued to edit following its release in February 2016. Pusha T also discussed their relationship, clarifying that the pair don’t discuss politics because he disagrees with West’s endorsement of Donald Trump: “The prison reform thing is so near and dear to me, and it’s something that I know we can’t even tackle with Trump. So, there’s nothing that I even want to hear in regards to him, a point of view, anything.”

Pusha T also discussed West’s upcoming album, slated for a 1 June release under the name Love Everyone, suggesting that it somewhat clarifies West’s controversial recent proclamations on Trump and comments describing slavery in America as “a choice”.

“He’s speaking on a lot on this album,” he said. “And I feel like he even speaks it clearer and messages it clearer and better through the music. That’s where you can see a bit of like, OK, you’re asking these questions. You’re saying these things to get this type of emotion or just get an answer for something else. I feel like it’s better there.”