Rapper Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., is no stranger to the press or to saying outrageous things.
This time, I don't believe he put much thought into what he said and wasn't prepared for the backlash that it brought about. Last month, Future's new song "Karate Chop (remix)" was leaked onto the internet. In the song, Wayne says that he was going to "beat" a female's genitals like Emmett Till. For those who don't know, Emmett Till was only 14-years-old when he was beaten, tortured, shot, lynched with barbed wire, attached to the fan of a cotton gin, and thrown into Mississippi's Tallahatchie River for allegedly flirting or whistling at a white woman back in the 50s. His death marked the beginning of the civil rights movement.
People don't realize how powerful our words are. There used to be a time in hip-hop when there was some sense of respect for one another and for those who came before us. Now, anything that jams is allowed to be recorded without a second thought. It doesn't matter how offensive it may be. There's no problem with giving the masses what they want, but what about the stories and metaphors that they need to hear? If artists wrote more positive or compelling lyrics that jammed, there's a good chance that the mind frame of generations could be changed.
Music is such an influential tool because it's universal. It reaches people in every nation, and with the internet, it can do this in a nanosecond. Before hip-hop was about bands making girls dance, Public Enemy and other such artists were encouraging young people to be more than a statistic. Queen Latifah spoke of U.N.I.T.Y. and put men in their place for calling her a female dog while Nicki Minaj made an entire song dedicated to calling a female a stupid gardening tool. Really? These songs are catchy, but what message are you trying to send to generations? Old school hip-hop is more lyrical than new school. There are new school artists who are lyricists, but many of our entertainers are just great entertainers. They don't have much depth to their lyrics.
In response to the words that Lil Wayne spoke about Emmett Till, the Till family sent a two-page letter to the rapper expressing their disgust for his degradation of Emmett Till, women, and the African American community. They too believe that the words we speak have more power than we think.
There are boys and girls of all ages and races who look up to these artists. Just because you don't want to be a role model doesn't mean you aren't still one to somebody. Most young people don't care about their history because they don't truly know and understand it. How can you know where you're going if you don't know and understand where you came from? Our past may not define us, but it does play a big role in our lives.