In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was brutally murdered after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi. The hate crime is said to have been one of the main inspirations for the civil rights movement. It also inspired rapper Lil Wayne, though not in a way that anyone is particularly glad about.
In his leaked new track “Karate Chop (Remix)” the rapper/skateboarder rhymes that he’s going to “beat that pussy up like Emmett Till”—a line that, unsurprisingly, has drawn the ire of the Till estate. Airicka Gordon-Taylor, Till’s cousin and director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundtation, told the Chicago Sun-Times that, while she doesn’t want to be “disrespectful to Lil Wayne,” she does feel he’s been disrespectful to her family and wants Till’s name removed from the song. Gordon-Taylor argues that the lyrics not only promote the abuse of women, the song also “shows a total disregard of where [Wayne has] come from,” saying that Wayne “wouldn’t even be out there rapping these stupid lyrics without the sacrifice Emmett made.” She’s seeking an apology from Weezy.
While she hasn’t received that yet, Wayne’s label Epic Records has responded with a statement pointing out that the "Karate Chop" single that's being passed around was an unofficial, unauthorized leak, saying, “Out of the respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family… we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version” of the track. The official version of the song, which should be out soon, will not contain any references to Till.