As hip-hop’s most unapologetic superstar, Lil Wayne will undoubtedly continue to do what he wants, musically and otherwise, but as of Friday (May 3), he will no longer be able to “Dew” anything for PepsiCo.
The multinational food and beverage corporation terminated its relationship with perhaps its most popular pitchman of its Mountain Dew soda due to the outcry over his controversial lyric mentioning civil rights martyr Emmett Till.
“Beat the pu–y up like Emmett Till,” Wayne rapped on Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix).”
PepsiCo released an official statement asserting that Weezy’s “offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand.”
“We do not plan any additional work with Lil Wayne moving forward,” a rep for the soft drink giant said in a statement to MTV News. “His offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand.”
Tunechi’s rep told the Associated Press the split was “an amicable parting” of ways due to “creative differences.”
The I Am Not A Human Being II MC came under fire back in February for mentioning Till, who, at the age of 14, was fatally beaten beyond recognition in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Epic Records removed the obscene lyric from the song and issued an apology.
That wasn’t enough for the Till estate. Still outraged by the vulgar punch line, the Till family and the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation released a YouTube video reprimanding Wayne for using Till’s name in such a crude and boorish manner and called for Mountain Dew to sever its ties with the Young Money CEO.
“We also support blocking and banning the endorsements,” a Till representative said on camera. “I’ve maintained through February, Don’t do the Dew. His biggest endorsement is through Pepsi’s Mountain Dew. Stop buying it, stop lining his pockets. People are outraged because they feel that he should apologize to our family.”
Wayne then issued a mea culpa to the family, “acknowledging” his lyrical miscue in the spirit of “word play,” but his attempt at making amends was panned by the family as a pseudo-apology, prompting them to seek further disciplinary action that would hit him where it hurts most: his wallet.
“While it’s commendable that he has vowed to respect the legacy of Emmett Till and his memory to ’not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in his music,’ this statement falls short of an apology, as none is mentioned,” Airicka Gordon-Taylor, a Till family representative told TMZ.
Earlier this week, PepsiCo yanked ads that were directed by Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator. The off-beat auteur was criticized by Dr. Boyce Watkins for his hand in helming the commercial that used harsh racial images “to appeal to the black male demographic” in a scathing manifesto titled “Mountain Dew Releases Arguably the Most Racist Commercial in History.”
“We apologize for this video and take full responsibility,” PepsiCo reps said in a statement. “We have removed it from all Mountain Dew channels and Tyler is removing it from his channels as well.”
Coupled with the recent end to Rick Ross’ brand ambassadorship with Reebok over rape rap lyrics on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.,” the latest “zero tolerance” moves by PepsiCo signals a shift in how companies view corporate accountability when it comes to its celebrity endorsers. Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Tyler, the Creator’s loss of endorsement opportunities should serve as a warning to other artists that what they say on record can and will come back to haunt them.