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Rappers put Pepsi in a bind

By Tyeisha Prior
On May 9, 2013


PepsiCo, home to the popular soft drinks Pepsi and Mountain Dew, had a bit of a rough week after
having to pull advertisements and part ways with two music artists.
The company received backlash and criticism from the public for both incidents with the artists.
PepsiCo dropped Lil Wayne over offensive and controversial lyrics referring to Emmett Till, a
14-year-old boy who died nearly 60 years ago after being brutally beaten and killed for allegedly
whistling at a white woman.
Another rapper, Tyler the Creator, had his television commercial pulled from PepsiCo after the
commercial was referred to as one of the most racist television advertisements of all time.
The rapper created the 60-second spot depicting a battered white woman who had to pick her
assailant from a police lineup of five African-American men and a goat.
To say the least, I'm glad that the company is starting to pick up on these offensive acts and take
full responsibility for them.
I'm not trying to say that artists shouldn't have creative freedom and expression in their music, lyrics
or other creative outlets, but there really is a line that should not be crossed.
Lil Wayne and Tyler the Creator clearly missed the mark with their actions. While Tyler the Creator
wasn't pulled from his contract, Lil Wayne was.
In my opinion, I think it was a good idea to let him go, mainly because of two items.
The first is that Lil Wayne didn't even apologize - at least not to me.
Wayne wrote an apology letter to the Till family, stating that he wouldn't use Till's name in a
derogatory manner in his music. But what's to say that he won't do it again with other people in the
The second reason is that it will show other artists that saying something like this in music is
unacceptable. There are other ways and references that you can use to express yourself. However, I
think in this case I'm more annoyed with PepsiCo than the artists.
The thing that annoys me with companies nowadays is the fact that they don't take the time to
access and evaluate the action of the artist, be it in a song or commercial. They will just publish it
and let these artists get away with whatever they want.
As for the Tyler the Creator ad, I understand that a main objective in advertising is to make them
comical and entertaining. On the other hand, the fact that the company allowed and continued the
cycle of perpetuating stereotypes in the media is a problem.
While I'm not trying to slam the artists per se, I think my main point is the fact that the company
decided to partner with these artists and had to know what they were getting themselves into.
If you know that you're one of the top brands and companies out there, I would hope that you
wouldn't want that image or that person's actions to be associated with the company.
I'm just hoping that, in the future, PepsiCo or any other company will take measures into their own
hands before incidents like this break loose.
Tyeisha Prior can be reached by email at

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