PepsiCo Drops Lil Wayne After Emmett Till Controversy
By Samantha Abernethy in Arts & Entertainment on May 3, 2013 10:10PM
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PepsiCo announced Friday that they're cutting ties with rapper Lil Wayne because his "offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand."
A publicist for Lil Wayne, Sarah Cunningham, said in a statement that the split was due to "creative differences" and that it was an amicable parting.
"That's about all I can tell you at this time," the statement from Wayne's publicist said.
Till, a Chicago teen, was savagely beaten and shot in the head, then his body was dumped in a river in Mississippi in 1955 by a group of white men who said he whistled at a white woman. Till was so disfigured by the beating that his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on having an open casket funeral so that people could see what happened to him. The incident became a watershed moment in the early days of the civil rights movement.
In February, Epic Records pulled a version of the song "Karate Chop" by rapper Future that contained a guest verse by Lil Wayne in which he said, "Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till." Earlier this week Lil Wayne wrote a letter to apologize to the Till family for his lyrics, but the family rejected it saying nowhere in the letter did he specifically apologize.
UPDATE: Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement Friday evening saying he has been in conversations "with leadership at PepsiCo and the family of Emmett Till," and said they intend to meet next week. Sharpton says this has been a "teaching moment for Lil Wayne, corporate America and the family of Emmett Till yet more than a condemnation of any one artist, it is an affirmation of Emmett Till and a call for more sensitivity about what we say and do in our culture." Sharpton says the National Action Network "does not want it to end with artists losing contracts but rather with a sensitizing of corporate America."