The rapper Lil Wayne has been getting a great deal of heat for many of his lyrics. The greatest heat from the black community came when the artist released a song “Karate Chop,” where he compares the beaten face of Emmett Till to a woman’s [email protected] This led to a coalition of activists standing up to both the artist and Mountain Dew, his corporate sponsor, demanding that Wayne apologize. Frustration built for weeks, as the artist refused to say a word, perhaps believing that the black community could be ignored without any significant consequence.
But Mountain Dew appears to be in damage-control mode, since it also cut an ad by Tyler the Creator that featured black men as criminals and convicts. This outpouring of anger toward the company and Lil Wayne comes at an awkward time, since the company is now preparing to send Lil Wayne on a world tour and has millions of dollars at stake.
The apology, issued on the site RapRehab.com, came from a conversation between well-connected radio personality Paul Porter and executives with the company. During an interview with Dr. Boyce Watkins, Porter explains how he went about getting the company to understand the seriousness of what it was doing. Porter, who learned of the Mountain Dew ad from reading Your Black World, says that he is a firm believer that the dangerous messages being promoted in hip-hop music are unhealthy and destructive, glorifying the violence that has come to consume the African American community.
Within hours of speaking with Porter, the company cut the ad and had Lil Wayne issue the apology below.
But Dr. Boyce Watkins feels that apologies, typically written by publicists, aren’t enough. He says that most of this is damage control, and that the company needs to sever all financial ties from Lil Wayne in order to send a clear message.
“I am of the opinion that Mountain Dew must seriously reconsider the implications of tying its corporate brand to an artist who has consistently condoned mass murder, drug abuse, and violence against women as part of the message that he regularly shares with millions of young people all around the world,” said Dr. Watkins. “When we have millions of little black boys reciting self-destructive lyrics every day from the age of six, the black community DOES NOT become a better place because of it.”
Lil Wayne’s apology is below. You can decide for yourself if you truly believe that he was the one who wrote it.
Dear Till Family:
As a recording artist, I have always been interested in word play. My lyrics often reference people, places and events in my music, as well as the music that I create for or alongside other artists.
It has come to my attention that lyrics from my contribution to a fellow artist’s song has deeply offended your family. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.
Moving forward, I will not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in my music, especially in an inappropriate manner. I fully support Epic Record’s decision to take down the unauthorized version of the song and to not include the reference in the version that went to retail. I will not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from my catalogue.
I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy. As a business owner who employs several African-American employees and gives philanthropically to organizations that help youth to pursue their dreams my ultimate intention is to uplift rather than degrade our community.
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.