Black history month not only highlights the accomplishments that black people have made all over the world, but it also brings back to light the triumphs and losses of the Civil Rights Movement. This week, Lil Wayne and Epic Records rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, when they dropped the remix to Future’s track “Karate Chop,” where Wayne used poor judgment and spit a verse that offended the masses. In talking about how he would have sex with a woman, he said:
“Beat that p—y up like Emmett Till.”
If you don’t know the horrific, disgusting and tragic story of Emmett Till, he was a 14-year-old boy who was viciously murdered in 1955 after two white men claimed that he had been flirting with a white woman. He was from Chicago, visiting his uncle in Mississippi for the summer. The woman’s husband and his half-brother found Emmett, beat him, shot him, gouged out one of his eyes, attached a cotton gin fan to his body, and threw his body in a river. The men were found not guilty and later on admitted in an interview that they did indeed commit the murder. A picture of the 14-year-old’s unrecognizable face was featured on the cover of Jet Magazine just a few weeks after the vicious attack, giving the world just a glimpse into the frightening racism that had been going on in the south. [If you want to see how horrific it was, you can click here at your own risk.]
Now, Lil Wayne and Epic are catching some major heat for allowing the reference to be featured in a song. Emmett’s cousin, Airickca Gordon-Taylor, spoke out on behalf of the family, demanding an apology from Wayne and the label.
“It was a heinous murder. He was brutally beaten and tortured, and he was shot, wrapped in barbed wire and tossed in the Tallahatchie River. The images that we’re fortunate to have that ‘Jet’ published, they demonstrate the ugliness of racism. So to compare a woman’s anatomy — the gateway of life — to the ugly face of death, it just destroyed me. And then I had to call the elders in my family and explain to them before they heard it from some another source.”
The legendary Stevie Wonder even spoke out saying he can’t believe anyone would equate anything with Emmett’s death.
“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.
Meanwhile L.A. Reid did reach out to Airickca to apologize, calling her with Jesse Jackson on the line to assure her the reference to Emmett would be removed and that both Future and Wayne agreed to it. However, Airickca says she hasn’t heard anything from Wayne personally. Emmett’s cousin Simeon Wright was in the bed with Emmett when he was kidnapped and later murdered, and Airickca said he made the comment that “‘the Ku Klux Klan would be very proud of Lil Wayne.’ And as tough a man as he is, I could see the hurt and the anger in his eyes. It just demonstrates to our family just how lost are our youth.”
If Lil Wayne didn’t know how inappropriate his lyrics were, he definitely got a wake up call and a history lesson this week. And to think that the label approved the track before it was released. It gets to the point when you have to ask when is enough enough?
This isn’t the first time Emmett Till was referenced in a rap song. On Kanye West’s breakout hit “Through The Wire,” while rapping about his girlfriend’s reaction to his car accident, Kanye West spit the line, “Just imagine how my girl feel, On the plane scared as hell that her guy look like Emmett Till.‘