Rick Ross vs. Reebok and Rape

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: May 12, 2013

Rick Ross was recently hired, and just as quickly fired, as the spokesman for a newly launched Reebok campaign. The reason for the brisk change of heart? A lyric found in Ross’s song “U.O.E.N.O.” where he refers to drugging and raping a woman. 

The partnership between the brand and the rapper seemed like a logical pairing.  A shoe brand looking to up its street credibility and a rapper looking to add to his never-ending endorsement deals. However, after the internet pointed out one of Ross’s less than respectable one-liners and put pressure on Reebok to get rid of him, Ross was quickly dropped from his contract.

The lyrics in question from U.O.E.N.O., which has been released since January, say, “Put Molly all up in her champagne, she ain't even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it.” Ross has already appeared in a commercial for the Reebok Classic sneaker, but after women’s groups and rape victims began issuing petitions in response to the song, Reebok terminated their contract with Ross stating that he was not living “up to the values of [their] brand.” It went on to say, “We are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse.”

To be fair to Ross, he issued a public apology the next day which said being a musician is “a great responsibility” and that the song lyric “does not reflect my true heart.” He continued, saying, “Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world. So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets.”

But this certainly isn’t the first time Rick Ross, or any rapper for that matter, has talked about drugging or raping women. Rappers Slim Thug and Earl Sweatshirt both came to Ross’s defense pointing out the inconsistencies in Reebok’s arguments. Slim Thug made the case that Rick Ross has always presented himself as a major drug dealer in his music, and that despite this, Reebok still found that he lived up to the “values of their brand.” Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future felt similarly, tweeting “rick ross has been a prominent cocaine / mass murder rap bro since i was like 10.” Essentially, Rick Ross is the same person, the same rapper, he’s always been. The only thing that’s changed about his values from before he was signed to the Reebok deal to after he was dropped from it, is that both he and Reebok were held accountable for some of the things he’s said and the violence against women that he’s promoted.

It’s a fair point that Reebok is hypocritical for signing a musical artist known as “The Boss” who famously dealt cocaine before becoming a professional rapper, and then dismissed him for not alligning with their business’ moral values. However, a company trying to get away with their bad decision making is nothing new. That doesn’t mean that a man who brags about drugging and raping women is deserving of an endorsement deal estimated between 3.5 and 5 million dollars. Perhaps this will serve as a lesson to everyone in the public eye that you are accountable for not only every thing you say but also the persona you represent.

Other Stories by Emily Kirkpatrick
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