Money talks: Rick Ross releases full apology for rape lyric

When we first broke the story about Reebok dropping Rick Ross I had mixed emotions.  I was excited that rape culture was being talked about and taken seriously. I thought that Reebok’s statement about why they chose to drop him was extremely on point. I’ve appreciated that their motives were not aimed at the lyrics themselves, but his refusal to take the issue seriously as reflected in the initial half assed apology. (He has since released a full apology, which can be found here, and is appreciated.)

But I was also struggling with the idea that Ross was being exploited in the first place, and how quickly disposable he is as rapper selling shoes for a company. (Even before he was dubbed Rape Ross he was promoting harmful definitions of masculinity and rapping about selling cocaine and Reebok was happy to have him. I find that problematic as well but I digress…) And as it pertains to rape culture I’m concerned with the message that we’re sending out when we ONLY talk to a celebrity’s money. Rick Ross (also known as Officer Ricky) understands that 72,000 people upset about a lyric in one of his verses can get him dropped from a major endorsement deal. But what has he learned about rape culture and his role in it? And is that why people should care about and understand rape culture? To keep their jobs?

Prior to his most recent statement, it was made extremely clear, for me at least, that Rozay (I know, the monikers are never ending) doesn’t have the slightest clue what rape culture is. And while I do agree with my fellow writer and feminist Dream Hampton that threatening to uproot the money tree is an effective way to get people’s attention, we have to have follow up plans and follow up conversations.

In fact, I believe in the power of these conversations because of  the transformative exchange I witnessed last year between Hampton and rapper Too $hort after he released a video giving young boys advice that included sexually assaulting young women. And now it seems as though Ricky Rozay has also learned a thing or two. But I hope that we remember that a broke rapper rapping about rape is just as harmful as one who has his endorsements in tact.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 13, 2013 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the important part was cutting Rick Ross’s paycheck, it was making sure he isn’t publicly supported by a major social institution. Whether we like it or not large corporations play a role as our social leaders and representatives, of a sort. They listen to and try to control our tastes, have significant powers over our economy and politics, and make a lot of the media we consume.

    Anybody can make up whatever vile lyrics they want and refuse to change, and there’s not much we can do about that. However, making sure that such attitudes are visibly denounced by ‘reasonable’ institutions of society like Reebok, and making it such a public issue, might get people who hadn’t been exposed to the idea of rape culture before to consider it seriously. The goal here isn’t social conditioning through punishment, but rather visible repudiation of rape culture. So I do think a broke rapper rapping about rape is much less harmful than one who has his endorsements intact :)

    If we get Rick Ross to reconsider his attitude too, that’s an extra win, and good for him if so. It might change even more people’s opinions. But he’s not really the target.

  2. Posted April 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. I have been having mixed feelings since Reebox dropped Rick Ross. I agree with Reebox’s decision yet I don’t think the point was to make sure he isn’t publicly supported by a major social institution. As the author pointed out I think the point is to challenge thinking and open dialogue. Now that he has issued a proper apology, is there still room for a Dream Hampton/Too $hort teachable moment? I think hitting him where it hurts (his money) is a copout in many respects. The campaign against him actually gave him more name recognition. Maybe he is disliked right now, but it won’t take much for him to be embraced by the community again. The conversation about rape culture and the “rap industrial complex” (as coined Rosa Clemente) is still needed and this one controversy was only the tip of the iceberg.

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