Whitney Houston’s nephew understands why Kanye West and Pusha T decided to use a photo of the late singer’s drug-covered bathroom as album art

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May 30, 2018 11:45 AM

Although Whitney Houston’s cousin slammed Kanye West for using a photo of the late singer’s drug-strewn bathroom as the cover for Pusha T’s new album, her nephew says he doesn’t blame the musicians for choosing the image.

“Not to be divisive, but I’m of a different mindset when it comes to situations like this,” Gary Michael Houston, the son of Houston’s older brother Michael, told Good Morning America in a statement.

“People will automatically look to people like Pusha T and Kanye West and try to place blame or say they have ill or malicious intent to gain publicity. But I get it. I get the correlation (sans my aunt but the photo itself),” the 31-year-old continued, adding that he’s “actually” a fan of the album.

“Bottom line — they are artists and in this day and age, if they can afford to pay someone for usage of that photograph in order to convey a visual message to accompany their musicianship…then so be it,” he explained.

RELATED: Whitney Houston’s Cousin Slams Kanye West for Using Photo of Her Drug-Covered Bathroom

The 31-year-old also added that if fans want to be mad at anybody, they should direct their outrage to “the person who violated the trust of my aunt by taking the photo and selling it to the tabloids” in the first place.

In 2006, the National Enquirer featured the photo showing Houston’s bathroom filled with drug-covered spoons and drug paraphernalia on its cover, which had been taken secretly by a family member in 2006 as the late singer struggled with drug addiction.

Gary Michael Houston
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

RELATED: Whitney Houston’s Cousin Slams Kanye West for Using Photo of Her Drug-Covered Bathroom

Pusha T previously revealed that while the pair were originally intending to use different cover art for his new album DAYTONA – which West produced – the “Wolves” rapper changed his mind at the last minute.

“One a.m., my phone rings. No caller ID. [He says,] ‘Hey, yeah, I think we should change the artwork. And I like this other artwork. And this other artwork is 85 grand,’” he recalled during an appearance on The Angie Martinez Show last week.

“I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to pay for that and I wasn’t even going to ask you to pay for that. We picked what we picked, it’s here, it’s ready,’” Pusha T, 41, continued, adding that West then offered to pay for the photo himself.

Whitney Houston and Kanye West
Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty; Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

RELATED: Kanye West Spent $85,000 on Photo of Whitney Houston’s Drug-Covered Bathroom for Pusha T’s Album

It’s understood that West paid to license the photograph but it is not clear if he paid the Enquirer or Houston’s sister-in-law Tina Brown, sister of the singer’s ex-husband Bobby.

Houston’s estate responded to the controversy on Tuesday, saying that they were “extremely disappointed in Kanye’s choice” for a cover image. “Even in Whitney’s death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world,” they said in a statement to ET’s Kevin Frazier.

Houston was found dead in a bathtub at The Beverly Hilton hotel in 2012. The icon’s death was ruled an accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use also to blame. In August 2012, her autopsy stated she also had marijuana, Xanax, Benadryl and other medication in her system.

Last week, the late singer’s cousin Damon Elliott slammed West for using the photo, telling PEOPLE that as soon as he found out about what was happening from his daughter “I immediately got sick to my stomach because it took me right back to six years ago.”

“I was actually in shock because I’m in the music business,” he continued, adding he had worked with West, 40, on a Keyshia Cole song. “I’ve watched the train wreck happening, but I didn’t think he’d go this far in invading someone’s family privacy.”

Kanye West and Pusha T
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

“To do something for a publicity stunt to sell records, it’s absolutely disgusting,” he continued. “It hurt my family and my daughter. It’s petty. It’s tacky.”

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