Lil Wayne, pillar of feminism and justice that he is, has caused quite a stir with a line from his verse on Future’s “Karate Chop Remix.” The line goes “Beat that p*ssy up like Emmett Till.”
Of course all of you CocoaFabulites know that Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy who was brutally beaten to death by grown men in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The poor baby’s face was so badly mutilated that he was unrecognizable. His mother bravely requested an open casket so that people could see the ugliness of racism and hatred. Till’s death and his mother’s subsequent activism are largely acknowledged as the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.
Of course Lil Wayne’s ridiculous line was not well received, especially by Emmett Till’s family.
Family spokesperson Arickca Gordon-Taylor had this to say about the line:
“Our family was very offended, very hurt. Disturbed by it…Our young people they emulate what they see, what they hear, and what they’re immersed in. And then we question them as they grow up and become citizens and they’re supposed to be productive in society and they’re not productive.”
Lil Wayne’s line is an affront to the Till family and to women. To invoke Till’s name in such a vulgar way is just plain disrespectful. And to associate a violent and horrendous crime with sex with a woman sends all types of wrong messages. While we’re on the subject, why is it that the phrases used to describe sex with a woman are so violent? You beat it up, smash it, hit it. To frame female sexuality with violence and submission is appalling and we (women) should be more mindful and gatekeeper-like about how our sexuality is presented in media/pop culture.
I’m actually somewhat of a fan of Lil Wayne. He’s a smart guy. I also think he’s a very talented rapper and I appreciate his stream of consciousness approach to lyrics. He can hop from talking about aliens to football to getting high to life in impoverished New Orleans neighborhoods and somehow string it all together. In interviews, he is insightful, engaging and often times downright charming.
But I don’t own a Lil Wayne album. At this point in my life as a grown woman, I just can’t rock with someone whose portrayal of women is negative 98% of the time. There are so many b*tches and hoes on his albums, you would swear he was an expert on female dogs and gardening. I can’t support that with my dollars.
But Lil Wayne is not the first rapper to name drop Emmett Till. On a Terror Squad track called “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” Remy Ma (who is currently serving eight years in prison for shooting a friend in the stomach) said “You got little tits and your face looks like Emmett Till.” That was back in 2004 and didn’t cause that much of a controversy, possibly because Remy Ma is not as popular as Lil Wayne.
But megastar Kanye West also used Emmett Till’s name. On his very popular song “Through the Wire,” West rapped, “On the plane scared as hell that her guy looked like Emmett Till.” West was referring to his girlfriend boarding a plane to see him after he had been in a near fatal car accident that required his jaw being wired shut, hence the name of the song.
For its part, Epic Records (the company behind “Karate Chop”) has issued an apology to the Till family and has vowed to remove what it calls the unauthorized remix of “Karate Chop.” Epic CEO L.A. Reid has also personally reached out to the Till family to offer his apologies.
Lil Wayne has yet to publically respond to the controversy and if he does, it probably won’t be terribly eloquent or remorseful. As talented and intelligent as he is, Lil Wayne crossed the line with me a long time ago in terms of his depiction of women in his music. This incident doesn’t change my opinion of him. I already knew his modus operandi.
What do you think about this latest Lil Wayne controversy? Much ado about nothing or does this warrant this much attention?
Demetria Irwin is an NYC-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter, @Love_Is_Dope.