Reebok ended its sponsorship of rapper Rick Ross on Thursday due to the controversy surrounding lyrics that appear to condone rape.
"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," Reebok said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday.
“At this time, it is in everyone’s best interest for Reebok to end its partnership with Mr. Ross.”
In January, Ross contributed a guest verse on “U.O.E.N.O.” by Atlanta-based rapper Rocko. In the song, Ross boasted about secretly slipping a female acquaintance the drug MDMA (also known as ecstasy and molly) before taking her home and having sexual intercourse unbeknownst to the woman.
“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,” Ross rapped in “U.O.E.N.O.”
Following the song’s release, feminist group UltraViolet began pressuring Reebok to drop Rick Ross as a sponsored figure. UltraViolet, which is largely composed of rape survivors, publicly protested at Reebok’s flagship New York City store in an effort to pressure Reebok and raise awareness about Ross’ lyrics.
Ross apologized to fans over the lyrics, though he only stated that some “interpreted” the song as about rape.
“I dont condone rape.Apologies for the #lyric interpreted as rape. #BOSS,” Ross tweeted.
In another apology to New Orleans radio station Q93, Ross said there was a “misunderstanding” because he “would never use the term rape in [his] records.” Ross also said that "Woman is the most precious gift known to man [sic]” in the interview. Ross did not acknowledge that intentionally drugging and sleeping with an unconscious or unaware woman meets the legal definition of rape.
After Rick Ross was dropped by Reebok, UltraViolet released a statement congratulating Reebok on their move.
“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. This sends a strong message that rapping about drugging and raping an unconscious woman is not only morally wrong, but has real consequences,” the statement read.
Also on Thursday, Rocko released a new remix of "U.O.E.N.O." without Ross' offending lyrics, according to Hip Hop Wired.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.