Proving that it is almost never wise to compare the results of rough sex to Emmett Till's face, Lil Wayne was dropped from his Mountain Dew campaign last week. Emmett Till, for those of you who aren't familiar, was a 14-year-old boy who was beaten to death, shot, and dumped in the river for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955.
I would have thought it was a no-brainer, the idea that society does not condone comparing anatomical parts with the face of a victim of a horrific racial crime, but indeed it was not. The controversial lyrics that cost Weezy his contract were taken from a remix of Future's "Karate Chop," which leaked onto the interwebs in February of this year. During Lil Wayne's part, the rapper proclaims that he'll "Pop a lot of pain pills/ 'Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/ Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till."
Classy, I know. Sorry about the visual.
To Tunechi's credit, though, perhaps the good folks at Mountain Dew should have done a bit of research before signing him on as their spokesperson. I mean, there's quite a bit of evidence that he might have a few controversial lines up his sleeve. And why didn't anyone in PepsiCo's marketing division watch this little masterpiece beforehand?
Did you really expect a guy who says "These hos got pussies like craters" to have the mouth of anything other than a truck-drivin' sailor? Why are they surprised about any of this?
Is it offensive? Yes. Is it terribly unexpected? No, not really. When you employ a guy like Weezy, who has built his entire career off being controversial, you should perhaps expect that leopard to keep his damn dollar-sign spots.
I know Weezy is probably pretty torn up about this, so I've compiled a little list to make him feel better. Below are ten other rappers who have also found themselves in hot water over their lyrical shenanigans.
10. Ludacris In 2002, Bill O'Reilly called for PepsiCo to drop Luda as a spokesperson, labeling him on his radio show as "a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse, and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society. The radio host called for a boycott of Pepsi's products over the rapper's endorsement, and Pepsi responded by dropping the rapper from their campaign, stating, "We have a responsibility to listen to our consumers and customers and we've heard from a number of people that were uncomfortable with our association with this artist."
The entire debacle resulted in a really wack beef between Luda and O'Reilly that lasted eight freakin' years. I'm pretty sure they both lost street cred in that one.
9. 2 Chainz No stranger to controversy, 2 Chainz is known for both his raunchy lyrics (see "Birthday Cake") and the fact that he seemingly has not one fuck to give. However, when the video for "I'm Different" surfaced, there was some backlash over its depiction of he and members of his crew arresting cops, guns in hand. 2 Chainz was dressed in head-to-toe leopard, which made me giggle, but the whole arresting police officers thing may not have been the smartest choice for a dude who likes weed as much as he does.
Anyhow, then the above photo happened in real life while 2 Chainz was being arrested for weed... so it seems there were probably no hard feelings with the police after all.
8. Soulja Boy Because assaulting us with never-ending memes of "Crank That" wasn't enough, Soulja Boy dropped this little bomb on us in his song "Let's Be Real": "Fuck the FBI and the army troops/ Fighting for what?/ Be your own man."
Um, yeah. I don't think I need to say much about why people were pissed about that one. Some pretty furious folks, especially veterans, have even called for the rapper to change his name, but so far no dice. However, he has since apologized, so take it as you like.
7. Rick Ross I already touched on this dude's controversial lyrics a while back, but he still deserves a place on this blog since his "U.O.E.N.O." line about slipping a chick Molly and "enjoying it" while she was passed out and drugged up did cause him to lose his Reebok endorsement. And yup, it still grosses me out, even after Ross was kicked off Reebok's payroll. Sorry.
6. Geto Boys Houston's own Geto Boys (featuring Rocks Off's own Willie D, of course) were controversial right out of the box, with first album Making Trouble earning them notoriety for their candid depiction of just about everything.
However, it was their 1990 song "Mind of a Lunatic," off the Getos' self-titled second album, that had critics accusing them of endorsing the thoughts and actions of the rapist and murderer depicted in the song. The group's label was forced to switch distributors, and a Rolling Stone reviewer called the song "utterly unredeemable" and a "snuff-and-rape fantasy."
5. Too $hort This old-school Oakland rapper has produced a list of controversial lyrics a mile long, but I'm going to go in a different direction with this one. While there's plenty of raunch to choose from, in 2012 XXL.com posted a video wherein Too $hort gives young boys some "fatherly advice" about how to, and I quote, "turn girls out." Talking directly to middle-school and high-school-age boys, the rapper says the following disturbing shit:
When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls. I'm gonna tell you a couple tricks. A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls.
We're going way past that. I'm taking you to the hole. Take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.
I'm pretty grateful for copy and paste at the moment, cause there ain't a chance I'm typing that out on my own. Two XXL staffers were suspended over the video, and Too $hort issued an apology for being disgusting.
4. 2 Live Crew An entire album, not one particular lyric, landed 2 Live Crew in a hot mess of controversy. After the Miami rappers released the single "Me So Horny," from their 1989 album As Nasty as They Wanna Be, the American Family Association decided that the "Parental Advisory" sticker on the album was a sufficient warning about the lyrics and convinced the state of Florida to take action, with them ruling that the album was, indeed, obscene material.
Store owners were warned that selling the album could be prosecutable, and there were arrests in undercover stings over selling the album. Three members of the group were arrested at a nightclub for performing songs off the album, and after a prolonged fight, the obscenity ruling was overturned.
3. Kanye West Although he was never formally chastised for his own Emmett Till reference in "Through the Wire," it seems kind of asinine to me that Weezy lost his endorsement over the same type of reference that Kanye made in his 2003 breakout single, so I'm counting it anyway. He also compared himself to Till after the 2010 VMA incident in which he made a joke out of himself in the media and society at large by interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech.
Hardly comparable, Till being beaten by the police for whistling at a white woman, and Kanye running onstage to the humiliation of an awards recipient -- who just happened to be white, and for which he caught rightful hell for stealing her moment. Maybe just stop the Emmett Till comparisons altogether, please, because they're pretty much all offensive. (There. He's formally chastised, and I feel better.)
2. Ice-T/Body Count Ice-T and company outraged just about every political figure in charge when his thrash-metal band Body Count's 1992 song "Cop Killer" was released. Then-President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle and even Tipper Gore, co-founder of the Parents Resource Music Center, had their collective panties in a wad over the lyrics, which depicted a man outraged by police brutality who then takes matters into his own hands and begins killing cops.
Ice-T, for his part, pulled the album believing its musical merit had been cancelled out by the controversy over the song, and re-released it sans "Cop Killer." However, the song was still released separately and given away as a free single.
1. N.W.A. "Fuck tha Police," from N.W.A's 1988 album Straight Outta Compton, criticizes the way some police forces (specifically the LAPD) allegedly categorize black youths as drug dealers, robbers and murderers. The song created an uproar not only for its observations about the escalating tensions with police, though. It was more heavily criticized for what some saw as explicitly advocating violence in lines like "I'm a sniper with a hell of a scope/Taking out a cop or two, they can't cope with me" and "A sucka in a uniform waitin' to get shot/ By me or another nigga."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The FBI cautioned the group's record label about the song's content. "Fuck tha Police" was also banned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, whose badass staff responded by playing a different N.W.A. song, "Express Yourself," for 24 hours straight in protest. That had to be awesome to be a part of.