Reebok Drops Rick Ross Over Lyrics That ‘Condone Rape’
The Massachusetts company says the artist’s choice in words for a song don’t match their standards.
Music mogul and self-proclaimed “Boss” Rick Ross, has been dumped by a major shoe brand after public outcry over the rapper’s lyrics, which listeners say condoned rape and sexual assault.
Canton-based Reebok severed ties with Ross on Thursday, saying the words in his song “U.O.E.N.O,” where Ross raps about slipping a strong drug into a woman’s drink unknowingly, did not live up to expectations they have from clients.
The lyrics to Ross’ song go:
Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/ she ain’t even know it.
Reebok dropped Ross in response to mass protests by activist groups and fans of the brand, which included gatherings outside of one of Reebok’s bigger stores in New York City, where people rallied for Ross to be fired as a sponsor for the company, holding signs that read “Take Rape Seriously.”
“Reebok holds our partners to a high standard, and we expect them to live up to the values of our brand. Unfortunately, Rick Ross has failed to do so,” the company said in a statement. “While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”
Ross’ response to the accusations that his song contained terse lyrics that condoned sexual assault came in the form of a Tweet from his personal account in April, to some 2 million followers:
The apology was followed up by a subsequent Tweet, where the rapper said sorry to his sponsors for the reactions that the choice in lyrics had drudged up.
But the sentiment wasn’t enough for the company, which continued to face scrutiny until Ross was officially let go. “At this time, it is in everyone’s best interest for Reebok to end its partnership with Mr. Ross,” Reebok officials said in a statement. When news came out Thursday that business between the Massachusetts shoe manufacturer and the mainstream rapper were no longer working together, Ross did not respond on his social media account.
A group of activists known as UltraViolet, who collected more than 100,000 signatures from supporters asking that Reebok fire Ross, issued a statement Thursday applauding the company for their decision. “We are thrilled to hear that Reebok is joining the fight against rape culture and dropping Rick Ross. This is a huge victory for women, for the 526 survivors of rape who were brave enough to publicly confront rape culture, and for the nearly 100,000 UltraViolet members who have poured their hearts and time into this campaign,” the group said. “This sends a strong message that rapping about drugging and raping an unconscious woman is not only morally wrong, but has real consequences … thank you Reebok for taking a stand.”