Wayne contributed a verse to Future’s new track “Karate Chop” from the album “F.B.G.: The Movie.” His verse contained the line “Pop a lot of pain pills/ ‘Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/ Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till.”
He’s always gone for shock and never shied away from getting dirty, but the last time Lil’ Wayne got this much attention for his lyrics was with the much more innocuous line “Real g’s move in silence like lasagna” from “6 Foot 7 Foot”—he’s never exactly been known for historical references or pushing cultural buttons.
But the reference to Emmett Till, the black teen who was lynched for supposedly flirting with a white girl in 1955, his killers later getting acquitted, set off a firestorm that yesterday caused Epic Records to apologize and promise to expunge the lyric from the track: “We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future’s ‘Karate Chop’, which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics,” the label said in a statement. They’ll attempt to take down the song online “out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.”
Emmett Till’s family has spoken out against the lyric and demanded an apology from Lil’ Wayne, and now Stevie Wonder is hopping on board, saying there are some places you just shouldn’t go. AP quotes Stevie:
You can’t equate that to Emmett Till. You just cannot do that. … I think you got to have someone around you that – even if they are the same age or older – is wiser to say, `Yo, that’s not happening. Don’t do that.’ Sometimes people have to put themselves in the place of people who they are talking about. Imagine if that happened to your mother, brother, daughter or your son. How would you feel? Have some discernment before we say certain things. That goes for me or any other (song)writer.
Of course, the biggest problem with the lyric seems to be not just that Wayne mentions Till, but that he trivializes a major touchstone of American race relations for the sake of bragging about having super rough sex. Which is sort of the problem many people seem to have with “Django Unchained“—it’s not that we can’t talk about slavery, which has become part of our common history for better or worse—we’re just not supposed to talk about it like that.
But for better or worse, at least Lil Wayne has us talking – about his actual music – for the first time in years.