This has been a tumultuous week for the soft drink giant, PepsiCo, to say the least. On the heels of pulling the controversial Tyler the Creator Mountain Dew commercial comes word that hip-hop superstar, Lil Wayne, is being dropped from the same soft drink company. The reason being is the lyric below from his guest appearance on Future's song entitled, "Karate Chop."
"Pop a lot of pain pills // 'bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels // beat that p*$y up like Emmett Till."
In a recurring skit from The Chappelle Show, this is definitely a real life episode of, "When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong!"
After the song was released in February, word spread that the Till family took extreme offense to the lyric, which mentioned the slaughtered teenager. Epic Records, the company who released the single, in an attempt to appease the Till family, edited the Emmett Till line. However, the Till estate wanted to hear some sort of contrition from Lil Wayne, themselves — receiving a half-hearted one, at that.
Chicago native Emmett Till was an African-American teenager in 1955. While visiting family members in Money, MS, Till approached a 21-year-old Caucasian woman (Carolyn Bryant). Her husband, and half-brother, visiting Till's great-uncle's house where they took him to a nearby barn and savagely beat him to death. The two men were acquitted of the charges but admitted guilt of the crime — as they were protected by the United States double jeopardy rule (a defense for being tried for the same offense twice). Till's mother insisted on a public funeral service of an open casket displaying the brutality.
The now-iconic image of that photo is the flash point of this controversy — and the impetus of Lil Wayne's "witty" banter about his sexual bravado.
The Young Money impresario is not the only rapper who has recently gone through having an endorsement pulled for controversial lyrics. Maybach Music Group's own Rick Ross spat a lil' sumthin' sumthin' with was also considered mad foul. On his guest appearance on Rocko's "U.O.E.N.O," the following lyric put the heat squarely on Reebok ...
"Put Molly in in her champagne // she ain't even know it // I took her home and I enjoyed that // she ain't even know it."
The controversy centered around Ross' reference to the now-popular street date rape drug called Molly (or MDMA) and his subsequent bragging of raping said woman after he "slipped her the mickey." After a heartfelt apology from Rick Ross — which was actually a second attempt — Reebok, with consumer pressure, dropped Ricky Rozay from their company in late April.
So what does this really say? Is this is platform centering itself around free speech? Or is it a symptom of something far greater in magnitude? Ice-T, pre-Law and Order, released an LP in 1989 entitled The Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech ... Just Watch What You Say. Something tells me that Lil Wayne (and Rick Ross) needed to take heed to this wonderful warning. This may spell doom for the hip-hop community when it comes to endorsements.
It's time these artists truly understand the power of their scope. I understand the concept of representing your neighborhood. I completely am in tune with talking about being a product of your environment. However, there is a fine line between going against the grain and doing something that's in very bad taste. I'd argue the point that this isn't going against the grain.
Today's hip-hop is littered with guys wanting to prove how much more of a man than their competition may be. So they go overboard and say misguided lines such as 'beat(ing) that p*$y up like Emmett Till," and "put(ting) Molly in her champagne" while "she ain't even know it." Lil Wayne and Rick Ross may have thought they kept it real, but the Till estate and Reebok consumers "kept it realer."
In the words of Chris Rock, "Oh, you're keepin' it real, all right ... real dumb!"