Hip-hop punch lines don’t always boast the most tasteful content, and while some should be digested with a grain of salt, Lil Wayne’s reference to Emmett Till on Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix)” has prompted an apology from Epic Records, after outcry from the Till estate.
Till was 14 years old when he was brutally murdered in Mississippi back in 1955. The hate crime, committed on grounds that Till had whistled at a white woman, provided major fuel for the birth of the civil rights movement. On the remix of “Karate Chop,” Wayne spits one line (“beat that p—y up like Emmett Till”) that prompted a response from Till’s cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor, who is also the founding director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation.
“My agenda is not to be disrespectful to Lil Wayne, even as much as I feel he’s been disrespectful to my family. We just want Emmett’s name removed from that song,” Gordon-Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday.
“That entire segment is very misogynistic and promotes domestic abuse toward women by our own race,” Gordon-Taylor said. “But it also shows total disregard of where you’ve come from. He wouldn’t even be out there rapping these stupid lyrics without the sacrifice Emmett made. Personally, I think Lil Wayne should just go ahead and apologize to my family. It’s hurtful.”
Future’s label, Epic Records, caught wind of the controversy and responded by stating that they would work to have the offensive content removed from the Internet. “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 via the Associated Press.
“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.” According to Epic, an official version of the song will be re-released, that “will not include such references.”
Wayne isn’t the first rapper to mention Till in rhyme, with Kanye famously rapping about him on “Through the Wire” (“On the plane, scared as hell that her guy look like Emmett Till”) after surviving a near fatal car crash.
There has been no comment from Lil Wayne’s camp.