In the lecture given by Jeffrey Ogbar on Febuary 15, 2013 titled “Ready to Die: Critiquing Hip-Hop’s Narratives of life and Death,” Ogbar talked about how record labels sensor content and will sometimes not allow certain lyrics on an album. He said that typically, lyrics about black on black violence are published, while lyrics about black on white violence (especially when involving the police) are typically banned. This “logic” allows for some of the most offensive lyrics to be published.
Epic Records released Future’s new song “Karate Chop (Remix)” this past February. In this song, Lil Wayne compares having sex to the murder of Emmett Till. In verse three Lil Wayne raps,
Pop a lot of pain pills
Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels
Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till
Two cell phones ringin’ at the same time
That’s your ho, callin’ from two different phones
Tell that bitch “leave me the fuck alone!”
See, you fuck her wrong, and I fuck her long
As I believe it should, this outraged the Till family and led them to release a letter about the lyrics. Even Stevie Wonder, who had previously admitted to being a fan of Lil Wayne, commented, “you can’t equate that to Emmett Till. You just cannot do that.”
Personally, these lyrics infuriated me. The line “beat that pussy up like Emmett Till,” mocks the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. Emmett Till’s murder was widely publicized and is considered a horrible act of racial violence that deeply impacted the Civil Rights Movement.
This line is also offensive towards women. Emmett Till’s funeral was an open casket. If you look at pictures of Emmett Till before and after his death and beating, there are almost no similarities. At the time of his funeral, Emmett Till was unrecognizable. When Lil Wayne says, “beat that pussy up like Emmett Till,” he is saying that men should preform sex with such force that they abuse women. He is making it a good thing to use force and violence during sex.
I believe that the letter the Till family released on this issue says it best, “when you speak lyrics like, ‘beat that pussy up like Emmett Till,’ not only are you destroying the preservation and legacy of Emmett Till’s memory and name, but the impact of his murder in black history, along with the degradation of women.”