Lil' Wayne's crude name-check in ‘Karate Chop’ has caused controversy US, but who is Emmett Till?

 

Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy murdered in 1955. This photograph was taken by his mother on Christmas Day, 1954 about eight months before his murder.
Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy murdered in 1955. This photograph was taken by his mother on Christmas Day, 1954 about eight months before his murder.

Rapper Lil' Wayne is not exactly known for his sensitivity, but his latest lyrical effort plumbs new depths with a line that's not only misogynistic, but also dismissive of the civil rights movement.

In "Karate Chop (remix)", Wayne threatens to "beat that p***y up like Emmett Till", prompting a complaint from Till's living cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor, "My agenda is not to be disrespectful to Lil Wayne, even as much as I feel he's been disrespectful to my family. We just want Emmett's name to be removed from that song...He wouldn't even be out rapping these stupid lyrics without the sacrifice Emmett made."

Emmett Louis Till was a 5ft4, 14-year-old African American from Chicago. While on a trip to visit relatives in Mississippi, Till was brutally murdered by a white gang, for the supposed crime of flirting with a white woman.

On the day prior to his murder, Till visited a grocery store and spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, who owned the store with her husband, Roy Bryant. Some accounts say Till wolf-whistled at Bryant, others that he called her "baby" - the exact details of their encounter are is disputed. In the early hours of the following morning Till was taken from his house by a gang led by Roy Bryant and murdered.

His body was found three days later, badly beaten, shot and with an eyeball gouged out from a socket. Till's mother insisted on an open casket funeral and images of his badly disfigured body were published around the world, drawing attention to the civil rights struggle in the South. Both defendants were later acquitted at trail by an all-white jury.

Lil' Wayne's record label, Epic have apologised for the lyric and pledged to remove the remix from the internet, but Lil' Wayne himself is yet to offer comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in