Lil Wayne causes outrage with rap mocking civil rights hero Emmett Till
Epic Records apologises for rapper's reference to Emmett Till, a black teenager murdered in 1955, after his family complain
Sean Michaels; guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 February 2013 07.10 EST
Lil Wayne's record label has sought to expunge all traces of a Lil Wayne rap from the internet, after the family of a murdered civil rights icon complained about its derogatory reference to him.
The track in question is Future's Karate Chop (remix), on which Wayne appears as a guest. "Pop a lot of pain pills," Lil Wayne raps. "Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/ Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till." Airickca Gordon-Taylor, Till's cousin, said the lines were "offensive not only to us, but to our ancestors and to women and to [the artists] themselves as young, black men".
Till was only 14 years old when he was tortured and killed for reportedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi. His death, in 1955, was a galvanising moment for the US civil rights movement, and thousands of people attended his funeral. His killers were acquitted, but – protected by "double jeopardy" – were later able to admit to the murder without suffering any legal consequences.
"Our family was very offended, very hurt ... [and] disturbed by it," Gordon-Taylor said of the rap. "We found it dishonorable to [Emmett's] name and what his death has meant to us as a people and as a culture … I just couldn't understand how you could compare the gateway of life to the brutality and punishment of death. And I feel as though they have no pride and no dignity as black men."
"We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future's Karate Chop, which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics," Epic Records said in a statement.
The Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation, founded by Till's mother, is now calling on radio stations to boycott Karate Chop (remix), and asking DJ Smallz to pull the song from its release on an upcoming mixtape. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, their campaign may have been successful: yesterday afternoon, Epic CEO LA Reid said that the Emmett Till line has been cut from the "official version" of Wayne's track. "We understand the sensitivity of this," Reid said. He also contacted the Till family to apologise. The rapper has yet to comment.