Till was 14-years-old when he was brutally tortured and murdered in 1955 for reportedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi, with his death subsequently attracting much media attention and gaining support for the US civil rights movement.
On a remix of Future’s track ‘Karate Chop’, Wayne referenced the teenager in his verse with the rap: “Pop a lot of pain pills/Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/ Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till.”. As the Guardian reports, his lyric was criticised by Till’s family, with his cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor describing it as “offensive not only to us, but to our ancestors and to women and to [the artists] themselves as young, black men”.
“Our family was very offended, very hurt,” he added. “We found it dishonorable to [his] name and what his death has meant to us as a people and as a culture. I just couldn’t understand how you could compare the gateway of life to the brutality and punishment of death. And I feel as though they have no pride and no dignity as black men.”
Now, the Huffington Post reports that Wayne’s lyrics have also been criticised by Wonder, too. The singer said: “You can’t equate that to Emmett Till. You just cannot do that… I think you got to have someone around you that – even if they are the same age or older – is wiser to say, ‘Yo, that’s not happening. Don’t do that’.
He added: “Sometimes people have to put themselves in the place of people who they are talking about. Imagine if that happened to your mother, brother, daughter or your son. How would you feel? Have some discernment before we say certain things. That goes for me or any other writer.”
Wayne’s record label Epic Records have since claimed that the line has been removed from the rapper’s version of the track. In a statement, they said: “We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future’s Karate Chop, which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics.”
Last year, Lil Wayne stated that he will release just two more albums before retiring from music, perhaps leading to a move into the film industry. He told MTV News that ‘I Am Not A Human Being II’ will be his penultimate album with just one more record, ‘Tha Carter V’, to follow.
Speaking to reporters about his career and feeling old at 30, Wayne said: “I know y’all want me around for a little bit, and ‘Tha Carter V’ is my last album. Man, I’ve been rapping since I was 8 years old. I’m 30 now, man. That’s a long time, man.”