Lil Wayne's lyrics have always courted controversy, but the rapper's guest spot on an upcoming remix crossed the line with Epic Records. Even as Weezy has stayed mum, his reference to a brutal Jim Crow-era murder caused the label to pull the song, according to a report from the Associated Press' Chris Talbott.
The track at the center of this uproar — a syrupy update on Future's "Karate Chop" — was leaked online this past weekend, and Lil Wayne fans and detractors alike contributed to the outcry over his verse. The line in question finds Lil Wayne hatching a metaphor that compares rough sex to the fatal beating sustained by Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy killed in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman in 1955. Till's murder and the white perpetrators' ensuing acquittal were rallying points in the civil rights movement, and (warning: graphic) photos of his open-casket funeral became iconic representations of racism's deadly consequences. Needless to say, the following excerpt from Wayne's "Karate Chop (Remix)" verse contains "adult" language:
Pop a lot of pain pills
'Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels
Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till
Those lines were quickly denounced by Emmett Till's surviving family members, including Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation founding director Airickca Gordon-Taylor, Emmett's cousin. She said of Wayne and Future's song, "Our family was very offended, very hurt ... It was offensive not only to us, but to our ancestors and to women and to themselves as young, black men."
Epic, which is Future's label and not Wayne's, still plans to release a version of the remix that omits "such references," but they've released a statement promising to pull the original recording:
Out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. ... we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version.
However, once a song leaks online, it can never be scrubbed away completely. For those curious to hear the offending snippet, it's still streaming on many sites. Wayne hasn't commented on the controversy yet, and hasn't halted today's release of a video for his new single.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.