Lil Wayne responds to family of Emmett Till over offensive lyric

The response comes two months after Epic Records pulled the track

By Prachi Gupta
Published May 3, 2013 12:29AM (UTC)
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(AP/Dave Martin)

Although Epic Records apologized for an offensive Lil Wayne rap lyric back in February, the rapper did not issue a formal statement until this week.

In the Future remix called "Karate Chop," Wayne compared the 14-year-old civil rights icon Emmett Till, murdered in 1955, to a sex act.

Wayne sent a letter to Till's family recently, saying he "acknowledged" the hurt caused by the lyrics:

Dear Till Family:

As a recording artist, I have always been interested in word play. My lyrics often reference people, places and events in my music, as well as the music that I create for or alongside other artists.

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. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.

Moving forward, I will not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in my music, especially in an inappropriate manner. I fully support Epic Record’s decision to take down the unauthorized version of the song and to not include the reference in the version that went to retail. I will not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from my catalogue.

I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy. As a business owner who employs several African-American employees and gives philanthropically to organizations that help youth to pursue their dreams my ultimate intention is to uplift rather than degrade our community.


Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
Lil Wayne

Till's family, however, was not satisfied with the response. They released the following statement via Facebook:

"We are aware of Lil Wayne’s statement of acknowledgement of our family’s pain and our disapproval of referencing Emmett Till in his lyrical content.

While it’s commendable that he has vowed to respect the legacy of Emmett Till and his memory to ‘not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in his music’, this statement falls short of an apology, as none is mentioned."

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Civil Rights Emmett Till Epic Records Lil Wayne Rap