Anyone who has ever listened to one of Lil Wayne's albums knows that the emcee has a penchant for the shocking, frequently evoking both sexual and violent themes. But some think his latest effort goes too far.
Released online over the weekend, his verse on the remix of Future's "Karate Chop" has created quite a bit of controversy. The lyric at the center of the controversy reads, "Beat that p---y up like Emmett Till." In an interview with Your Black World's Dr. Boyce Watkins, the family of Till expressed their displeasure with the lyric.
"He was murdered for whistling at a white woman in 1955, so to compare his murder and how brutally beaten and tortured he was to the anatomy of a woman was really very disrespectful," said Airickca Gordon-Taylor, Till's cousin, and the founding director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation. "We found it dishonorable to his name and what his death has meant to us as a people and as a culture. It was offensive, but not only to us, but to our ancestors and to women and to themselves as young, black men," Gordon-Taylor said. "I just couldn’t understand how you could compare the gateway of life to the brutality and punishment of death. And I feel as though they have no pride and no dignity as black men."
A 14-year-old Emmett Till was kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot and drowned by white men on August 28, 1955, in Money, Mississippi. His death, and the subsequent acquittal of his murderers, is considered a major catalyst in the civil rights movement.
"Our family was very, very offended, very hurt," Gordon-Taylor said. "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. And society is already criminalizing our young, black men at every opportunity that they have. So it just really concerns us that here you are using Emmett Till’s name in such an egregious way, and you’re not having any respect for yourselves as well as our family. And that’s the biggest concern. We’re concerned about our young people as well as the image of Emmett Till."
It's not the first time Till's name has been used in a song. Bob Dylan's "The Death of Emmett Till" tells the story of his murder and the legal battle. Rapper Remy Ma used it in Terror Squad's "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," and Kanye West did the same in "Through The Wire."
Gordon-Taylor and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition are calling for a boycott of "Karate Chop," charging that the artists should have had enough integrity to not release the song.
Till's family has reached out to both Future and Weezy, but have not yet heard from them.
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(Photos from left: Wikicommons, WENN.com)