Say what you want about the state of Hip-Hop, but what you can’t deny is that rappers are still able to make headlines, even in 2013. Last week, Lil’ Wayne’s latest verse on Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix)” get’s the honor of being the latest headline that was able to stir up quite a bit of controversy. During Wayne’s 16 he uttered this metaphoric couplet:
Beat the pussy up like Emmett Till
Till being the 14 year old African American boy murdered in Mississippi for allegedly cat calling at a White woman. It didn’t take long for the line to generate immediate backlash. Epic Records, which Future is signed to, removed the song from the internet and issued an apology to the Till family. Airickca Gordon-Taylor, director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation (Named in honor of Till’s mother) and Emmett Till’s cousin, issued a personal statement via the foundation, saying that Wayne’s lyrics were not only disrespectful to the family and Till’s memory, but tasteless and sexist as well.
In summation, we have another rapper making a stupid lyric and another community leader decrying said rapper. Sound familiar?
While I, like others, am quite disturbed by Wayne’s seeming insensitivity and possible detachment to the seriousness of Emmett Till’s legacy, I am more exhausted by the way we handle these matters; by blaming rappers.
This is not a reckless defense of Rap music, a genre filled with examples of questionable morals and reprehensible activity, whether it be violence, misogyny, homophobia, drug use, materialism, or whatever vice you are most offended by. It would seem like rappers are the perfect target to place our anger and contempt towards. But what is forgotten is that rappers didn’t start these trends. Yet for some reason, many Black folks seem to view Hip Hop as the lone source of our society’s ills, when in actuality it offers (at times) a reflection of the effects that these negative attributes can have.
As much as the Rick Ross’s and Pusha T’s of the game would like you to believe it, they’re not the ones funneling drugs into the country. 2 Chainz may say the word bitch a lot, but I don’t think the politicians who wanted to deny a women’s right to insurance covered birth control were ridin’ around and getting’ it. While your favorite rapper saying “fag” to insult their haters is definitely problematic, I really have a problem believing that was a major factor in the hold up of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. These are problems that the entire country faces, and while our communities suffer disproportionately, we can’t just place the blame on Jay-Z.