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article imagePepsi drops Grammy-winner Lil Wayne over Emmett Till lyric outcry

By Yukio Strachan     May 3, 2013 in Business
Pepsi-Cola of North America severed ties with rapper Lil Wayne Friday after the rapper made a crude reference to 14-year-old slain civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a song.
Wayne, 30, had been the face of the PepsiCo drink Mountain Dew's "DEWeezy" campaign, a play on the rapper's "Weezy" nickname.
"We do not plan any additional work with Lil Wayne moving forward," a Mountain Dew representative said in a statement, Reuters reported. "His offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand."
The "DEWeezy" campaign website has been taken down.
The I Am Not A Human Being II MC came under fire back in February for mentioning Till in a remix of the song "Karate Chop" by rapper Future. Lil Wayne likened the beating of Till to a beating during a sex act. "Beat the pu--y up like Emmett Till," Wayne rapped.
Emmett Till: Civil rights martyr
Till, an African-American teen from Chicago, was in Mississippi visiting family in August 1955 when he was brutally killed — purportedly for whistling at a white woman.
He was kidnapped from his uncle's home in the middle of the night at gunpoint, taken to a plantation barn and tortured. He had his eyes gouged out and was shot in the head before his assailants tied a cotton gin fan to his body with barbed wire and tossed it into the Tallahatchie River, USA Today notes.
His weighted down body was found three days later and returned to Chicago where his grief-stricken mother, Mamie Till, insisted on having an open casket at his funeral.
Many have considered Till's death, pictures of his battered, broken face in the casket, and the subsequent trial a catalyst for starting the civil rights movement. Two white men, Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam, were acquitted by an all-white jury in the killing.
Lil Wayne's open letter
Epic Records removed the obscene lyric from the song and issued an apology. In a letter to Till's family this week, Lil Wayne called the reference "inappropriate" but stopped short of an apology.
That wasn't enough for the Till estate. Still outraged by the vulgar punch line, according to MTV, 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.
MTV notes the latest "zero tolerance" moves by PepsiCo signals a shift in how companies view corporate accountability when it comes to its celebrity endorsers.
On Wednesday, PepsiCo pulled a series of online ads for Mountain Dew by rapper Tyler, The Creator which was criticized for embracing racial stereotypes and trivializing violence toward women. Tyler 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."
Earlier this month, Rick Ross also lost his brand ambassadorship with Reebok after he rapped about raping a woman who had been drugged on Rocko's "U.O.E.N.O."
"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.," MTV said.
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