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Beyonce has posed in “blackface” for L’Officiel Paris magazine. The African-themed photo shoot pays tribute to the legendary Fela Kuti and is featured in the mag’s March 2011 issue, which also celebrates their 90th anniversary.

Kuti, the Nigerian musician and human rights activist, was reportedly a large influence on Beyonce’s upcoming fourth album.

While “blackface” has always been controversial, the magazine stands by it’s decision, saying:

“The Fashion magazine is about to celebrate its 90th birthday. To celebrate this anniversary, the festivities start with the March issue, with Beyoncé on the cover. She agreed to pose for an incredible fashion shoot, with the theme of African Queen, paying a tribute to the legendary Fela Kuti. Far from the glamorous Sasha Fierce, the beauty posed for the magazine with amazing fashion designers clothes, but also in a dress created by her mother. [It is] A return to her African roots, as you can see on the picture, on which her face was voluntarily darkened. All the pictures will be available in the collector edition, on sell at the end of this month.”

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