Rapper/actor Nick Cannon welcomed the controversy sparked by his skin-lightening stunt to promote his new album White People Party Music, because he hopes the idea will help his fans recognise the difference between "humour and hatred".

Mariah Carey's husband created a character called Connor Smallnut to promote the project, and he recently shared images of himself wearing a wig and heavy make-up to make his skin look white in photos as his new alter-ego.

The snaps prompted a wave of criticism online, with many making comparisons to the uproar created whenever white people don 'blackface', insisting Cannon's stunt is no different.

However, the star claims there is nothing racist about his actions.

He tells U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America, "It was one of those things, even in naming my album and naming the character, I knew it would spark some controversy, but I felt like it's a conversation we needed...

"Everybody's really sensitive when it comes to race, and that's one of the reasons why I did it... They (critics) are using this term 'whiteface,' like, I don't even know what that is. I know 'blackface' was a term that was created in 1869 to describe offensive minstrel shows. 'Whiteface,' if you look it up and Google it, it's a ski slope in upstate New York! I was doing a character impression, 'blackface' is about oppression...

"But to me, this was to have fun and to put it out there - yes, we have issues with race in this country, in this world, but it doesn't have to be with hatred. There's a big difference between humour and hatred.

"It gets about this whole double standard... It's really not that big of a deal. I'm an artist (so) I get the opportunity to create. As long as I embrace it, you know, of course, everything's gonna come with consequences and a little heat, but if I can take the heat."