Reebok and Rick Ross: Will the Company Drop the Rapper Over Rape Lyrics?

In light of some rather unfortunate song lyrics, Reebok is being forced to reconsider its campaign with rapper Rick Ross for the alleged promotion of violence against women in his song “U.O.E.N.O.”

In it, the rapper declares: “Put molly all in her champagne; she ain’t even know it; took her home and enjoyed that; she ain’t even know it.”

In a half-hearted attempt at a sincere apology, Ross claimed via twitter, (Thursday at 12:23 p.m.), that “I don’t condone rape. Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS.”

Through his apology, Ross explicitly implies that the mistake was on our part, by interpreting his lyrics to mean something different from what he originally intended. Is it plausible that I could have wrongfully interpreted the lyric to insinuate a situation of rape? I mean, I suppose Ross could have meant that he slipped the girl a molly (which in and of itself is wrong), and then took her home, put her in bed, and let her sleep – which he then “enjoyed.” But then, mind you, Ross tweeted Thursday at 1:38 p.m., saying “Apologies to my many business partners, who would never promote violence against women. @ReebokClassics @ultraviolet.” Umm, wait a minute – did he just apologize to his business partners for promoting violence against women? But I thought the lyrics were only wrongfully interpreted as rape?

The reality of the situation is that regardless of Ross’s intent, the lyrics were interpreted as rape. I, for one, could really care less what Ross now claims such a meaning was. I do not believe that anyone of sane mind has ever come out stating that they do condone rape, (at least in the modern civilized world). So of course Ross’s first instinct is to retract and state he doesn’t excuse such violence. But, what is most confusing, is that the lyrics still explicitly state that he “put a molly all in her champagne.” What about that line alone does not insinuate an attempt to dispose a woman of her cognizance? What about that line alone is ok?

The sad situation here is that a lot of people listen to Rick Ross, and therefore, are subject to hearing the above lyrics which are clearly an instance of rape and violence against women. While Ross’s apology attempts to assure us that he does not condone rape, it does not mean that he, or future artists, will stop rapping about it. And that is where the conversation needs to start: finding responsibility for the promotion of the violence against women, regardless of “intention.” Ross’s ill attempt at a sincere apology, or even a viable explanation, only further advances the thought that the lyric was truly intended as a harmful sexual situation and further stigmatizes legitimate scenarios of rape as being so.

Reebok, or any company who retains any celebrity for promotional purposes, knows the cost and risk benefits that come along with what that specific celebrity represents. Reebok knew that when taking on Ross as a promoter of their brand, they were also taking on his persona and knew the nature of his lyrics. But it appears in this instance, where no truthful apology has come forward from Ross, that Reebok’s hands are tied to dropping someone who so ignorantly ignores both the vulnerability and livelihood of 50% of its customers. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Nicole D'Amore

Public Policy Graduate Student, Philosophy Major, Working in Law

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