Apology Or No Apology? Drake, J. Cole Continue ‘Sorry’ Trend

Radio 1 Big Weekend Festival - Day 1

When Snoop Lion appeared on “RapFix Live” in April, he weighed in on the controversy surrounding Rick Ross’ lyrics on “U.O.E.N.O.” (which would eventually signal the end of Rozay’s Reebok deal), stating bluntly, “When you’re buying Snoop Dogg you’re buying all that comes with it. When you’re buying Rozay, you’re buying all that comes with it.” That sentiment doesn’t seem to apply in 2013, though, with rappers like Drake and J. Cole issuing full-blown apologies for content that seems PG by rap standards. When all is said and done, are these rappers better off apologizing, or remaining mum?

Rick Ross: Though Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” had been out for weeks before anyone bothered to take issue with Rozay’s lyrics, when the drama began it really took off. Protests were held at the Reebok store in NYC and for days fans flooded Ross’ Twitter timeline with hateful messages. At the peak of the uproar, the MMG CEO attempted to apologize, but he really might’ve been better off just saying nothing at all. “There was a misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation,” Ross said during a radio interview at the time. “I would never use the term ‘rape’ in my records and as far as my camp. Hip-hop don’t condone that, the streets don’t condone that, nobody condones that.” After this, the slander was only amplified, with fans accusing Ross of trying to get out of a real apology. (Note to self: never use the word “misinterpretation” in an apology).

Lil Wayne: Weezy isn’t the first rapper to reference Emmett Till in a rap song (see: Kanye’s “Through the Wire”) but the manner in which the civil rights figure’s name was used on “Karate Chop” really struck a chord. The Till estate was so publicly outraged, that Wayne’s camp actually issued an apology. Well, something like that. Nowhere in the statement was there really an apology for the lyrics, as much as an apology for the Tills taking offense. Count this as another situation where the attempted apology did more harm than good. Amazingly enough, earlier this month during a show in Tennessee, Wayne finally issued a verbal ‘sorry’ to the Till family–3 months after the controversy. Better late than never? Perhaps.

Tyler, The Creator: Although lyrics weren’t at the center of this particular controversy, we’d like to point back to Snoop Lion’s statement in the case of Tyler, The Creator and Mountain Dew. The Odd Future frontman, known for his off-the-wall antics and often offensive lyrics, was forced to defend his silly Mountain Dew ad against claims of racism in May. His management issued a statement noting that “It was never Tyler’s intention to offend,” and Mountain Dew swiftly pulled the ads from both TV and web. Tyler was diplomatic enough to listen to Dr. Boyce Watkins outlandish claims (might we go so far as to call it trolling?) and be respectful, while accurately calling the ban “ridiculous.” Completely ridiculous. If we could invoke Snoop for a moment: “Dear Mountain Dew, when you’re buying Tyler, The Creator you’re buying all that comes with it.”

J. Cole and Drake: This month autism advocates took aim at J. Cole for some distasteful lyrics on Drake’s Jodeci Freestyle, and the criticism didn’t go unnoticed by the Roc Nation rapper, or his OVO counterpart. Cole issued a sincere apology via his Dreamvillain blog, (“Last week, when I first saw a comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away that what I said was wrong”) and Drake followed a day later with his own sorry, adding, “I share responsibility and offer my sincerest apologies for the pain this has caused.” Kudos to Drake and Cole for issuing real apologies that couldn’t be,um, “misinterpreted”…but we’d like to pose this question: Did it really take a complaint to highlight the fact that the lyrics could be deemed offensive to begin with? Or did a little pressure force an unnecessary apology?

Do you think rappers should continue to apologize when criticized for their work, or does Snoop Lion have the right idea?