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The family of slain teenager Emmett Till, whose brutal murder in 1955 became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement, is seeking an apology from Lil Wayne for including a crude reference to the teen in a remix leaked online over the weekend.
Airickca Gordon-Taylor, Till’s cousin and spokesperson for the family, called the teenager’s death “a heinous murder” in an interview with the Associated Press. “So to compare a woman’s anatomy — the gateway of life — to the ugly face of death, it just destroyed me. And then I had to call the elders in my family and explain to them before they heard it from some other source.”
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The offending lyric came on Future’s “Karate Chop” remix, in which the rapper said he was going to “pop a pill” and then “beat that pussy like Emmett Till.”
Epic released a statement apologizing for the line.
“We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future’s ‘Karate Chop,’ which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics,” it said. The label added it was making “great efforts” to take down the version containing the offending lyric.
Epic CEO LA Reid reached out to the family, according to a post on the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation Facebook page. (Mamie Till was Emmett’s mother.)
“Mr. Reid stated the song was leaked out and he had not heard the lyrics. He is a man of integrity that values our family’s legacy and wouldn’t allow such heinous usage of Emmett Till’s name or dishonor his memory,” the post read. “We have yet to hear from Lil Wayne’s camp.”
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Till, an African American from Chicago, was murdered by a group of white men in Mississippi after he supposedly flirted with a white woman in a store. Two men, one of whom was the woman’s husband, were tried for his murder and found not guilty by an all-white jury. Till’s body was returned to Chicago for a funeral, where his mother insisted on an open casket so the world could see what had been done to her son.
During the murder, Till’s eyes were gouged and he was shot in the head. His attackers wrapped his body in barbed wire and threw it into the Tallahatchie River.
Till’s death went on to inspire the Bob Dylan song “The Death of Emmett Till” and sparked conversations about civil rights nationwide.
Simeon Wright, a cousin whose family Till was visiting when he was murdered, was upset by the lyric. “And he said the Ku Klux Klan would be very proud of Lil Wayne,” Gordon-Taylor recalled Wright saying.
The Epic website currently contains a version of “Karate Chop” without the Till reference.
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