PepsiCo announced it has ended its partnership with the rapper over a vulgar sexual reference to slain civil rights figure Emmett Till. Wayne had been a spokesman for the company’s Mountain Dew soda.
“We do not plan any additional work with Lil Wayne moving forward,” PepsiCo said in a statement on Friday. “His offensive reference to a revered civil rights icon does not reflect the values of our brand.”
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Wayne began appearing in ads for the brand early last year. A rep for the rapper told The Times the split was due to “creative differences,” and said it was an amicable parting.
On Wednesday, months after he created a firestorm for the reference that appeared on a remix of the hit “Karate Chop” by Atlanta rapper Future, Wayne acknowledged the effects of his controversial lyrics in a letter he sent to Till’s family.
“It has come to my attention that lyrics from my contribution to a fellow artist’s song has deeply offended your family. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure,” he wrote. “I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.”
In his letter, Wayne wrote that he not only supported the decision from Future’s label, Epic, to remove the offensive line, but also vowed that he would “not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from my catalogue.”
Epic Records Chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid apologized to Till’s family and had the reference removed. But that was in February, and Wayne continued to remain silent, despite demands from the Till family for him to make a public apology.
Although the lyrics are unprintable, the line in question saw him compare his sexual prowess to the 1955 assault of Till — a 14-year-old African American who was tortured and killed after reportedly whistling at a white woman during a family visit in Mississippi.
The Till family publicly rejected Wayne’s statement and felt it fell short of an apology. More than 60% of Times reader’s polled felt Wayne’s statement came too late, considering the controversy was in February.
Wayne isn’t the only rapper to be in the hot seat this year over offensive lyrics. Rick Ross faced a backlash over lyrics that seemingly promoted date rape. He offered a casual apology, but women’s rights groups put pressure on Reebok to drop the rapper as a spokesman. The athletic company eventually severed ties and Ross issued a lengthy apology.
Earlier this week, PepsiCo pulled a series of online Mountain Dew ads developed by Tyler, the Creator.