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Rick “Raping” Ross and his Relationship with Reebok

reebokThere’s a pair of Reebok’s on sale at the shoe store I work at. Garish, in-your-face little things, they are. I typically wouldn’t even look at a shoe like this, but it’s one of the few for sale in my store with a pivot ball on the sole – which, if you do Zumba, you know is really good for dancing. The colors are bright enough to allow me to cra ft an entire 80’s outfit around them, and perhaps spend an afternoon in pretend proficiency in breakdancing, if I ever chose to.

They were too expensive though. I waited for them to go on sale, and last week they finally did. At 30% off, I could easily afford them now…but then I read the news and discovered that I didn’t even WANT them.

It’s been all over the news for the last 2 weeks or more: Rick Ross’ pro-rape lyrics in the song U.O.E.N.O. (which I have no idea what is abbreviated for and have no interest in discovering.) One verse in particular had women’s rights and advocates for rape victims in arms and engaged in battle. In my view, their reaction was apt and warranted.

That nigga sold you that re-rock, you ain’t even know it
I die over these Reeboks, you ain’t even know it
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
Got a hundred acres I live on, you ain’t even know it
Got a hundred rounds in this AR, you ain’t even know it
Got a bag of bitches I play with, on cloud 9 in my spaceship
Zoned out but he stay fresh from Zone 1 through Zone 6
Bricks all in my blood, birds all in my dreams
Boats all in my yard, lemon pepper my wings
I’m bout to get you f*ck niggas wacked, you ain’t even know it
Your main nigga bout to turn his back, you ain’t even know it

This is my first time actually looking up the lyrics outside of the reference to drugging his date and raping her while unconscious. I’m a bit perturbed by the rest of the content. Like most Top 40 rap today, it’s nothing more than gibberish about flaunting wealth, bagging b*tches and killing other Black guys. You know, just your run of the mill hood jingle. The only thing that distinguishes one rapper from the next is some gimmick he is forced to employ, and so you have L’il Wayne sporting nut hugging leopard print pants (which he has the audacity to sag) and a portly Rick Ross exposing his grotesque belly at every opportunity. The point is, if you’re looking for a song for which to use as a protest against the myriad of ills that plagues American society, this one certainly qualifies.

U.O.E.N.O has now earned the shameful moniker of “Rick Ross’ date rape song”, something I’m sure he never imaged when he penned his “lyrical masterpiece”, and yet there you have it. My problem with the song is not that he wrote it, or even put it to music. It’s that all the adults in the room listened to each syllable and didn’t find anything wrong with it. This is an issue that is playing itself out in music studios all across the nation: there is no sense of accountability. None whatsoever.

In the wake of Steubenville, the rape and impending suicide of Audrie Pott and hundreds of stories of rape that we will never hear about, Rick Ross’ situation becomes particularly poignant. Rick Ross is not a role model for anyone under the age of 40, but he does possess the same privileges and certain the same platform of the cherished title American society has heaped on the gaggle of hapless dimwits we love to idolize.

He is a musician, and music is –and always will be – influential.

I’m guessing the average consumer of Rick Ross’ music is young, male and urban (or wannabe urban). As was exhibited by the case in Steubenville, most of this segment of society doesn’t have the sense of a boiled crab. When you make suggestions of this sort – that you can drug a girl and take her home, and “enjoy that” without her even knowing it – and don’t follow up with the possible consequences of this action, which include arrest and incarceration, well then that makes you dangerous.

As predicted, several members of the hip-hop community like Drake and Tyga came out in defense of Rick Ross, citing freedom of speech and artist oppression. They said activists and righteous groups were grasping at straws, using anything they could to quell the message of hip-hop.

“I mean activists, and all those righteous groups. That’s what they do, they probably don’t even listen to Ross’s music. I know they don’t know who Rocko is,” said Tyga.

No one needs to know who ‘Rocko’ is. I believe celebrities have a right to privacy. He’s an entertainer, and all we need to judge him by is his product – and at the moment, he has produced a song that glories date rape (along with owning a plantation and murdering other Black men. But that’s a discussion for another day.)

Tyga’s utterances are problematic, because they convey and are rife with a pervasive notion of entitlement: That one is entitled to say and do whatever they want for any reason they can conjure – or not conjure. After all, this is America. No one really has to give an account for why they do one thing or another, or so we’re raising this generation and those that follow to believe. Ask Rick Ross why he thought it would be okay to violate a woman in a state of unconsciousness and then write a song about it. Bet you he looks at you with that blank stare my 4 year old gives me, shrugs and goes “I dunno.”

I have discovered that rape is not only about power, but also a false sense of endowment. Men and boys who disseminate and consume poisonous lyrics like these grow up more and more convinced that they have the right to harass, belittle, and rape whomever they wish. I can’t say that they are only to blame. Video whores who have sold out the gender for fleeting fame have contributed to this new idea of capturing the moment on camera and spreading the images around. The only difference is, they get the benefit of being aware and complicit in their actions. The Steubenville victim and Ms. Pott did not.

rrUltimately, I’m glad that Reebok decided to drop Rick Ross from its endorsement deal, but I feel like it was too little too late. Their lack of a swift reaction says to me (and many others) that the corporate brand was waiting to see if this whole “date rape thing” would just blow over. If the company felt strongly about what it is supposed to stand for – the health, fitness and wellbeing of its consumers – they never would have chosen such a slovenly, oily, misogynistic representative in the first place. For Heaven’s sake; Even Nike dropped Tiger Woods from its endorsement deal without prompting, and all 4,853 of his sex-capades where consensual!

I’m not saying Rick Ross can never make another date rape song again if he wants to – I’m just saying we don’t need to reward him and other foolish people like him. He has a right to free speech, and I have a right not to give him or his sponsors a rusty red cent if it’s going to send our society further into the bowels of Hell.

So discuss, discuss! What do you think?