We can’t claim to be any wiser than the brand strategists at Reebok, but we do feel quite confident in writing that it’s long past time for the company to address the controversy surrounding one of its celebrity spokesmen, rapper Rick Ross. The hubbub concerns these lyrics from Ross’s recent single “U.O.E.N.O”:
“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.”
“Molly”, in case you missed it, is slang for ecstasy, and the verse quite clearly indicates that Ross slipped the drug into a woman’s drink without her knowledge and “took her home” while she was under its influence. There is literally no way to make these lyrics look good.
A lot of people are quite justifiably appalled, and an online petition calling on the shoe maker to drop the rapper as spokesman has received more than 50,000 signatures to date (here’s a second, smaller one via Change.org). The organizers of women’s rights group UltraViolet, which posted the first petition, have also scheduled a protest for tomorrow at the Reebok flagship store in New York.
It’s damage control time. And Ross’s response to the uproar has been, quite frankly, pathetic. He told a New Orleans radio station that he loves women and doesn’t condone rape:
It was misunderstanding with a lyric, a misinterpretation where the term ‘rape’ wasn’t used. And I would never use the term ‘rape’ in my records.
Yeah, that’s not gonna cut it. He didn’t “use the term”, but the fact that any ambiguity exists is no one’s fault but his own — and now it’s Reebok’s responsibility as well.
Again, we can’t claim to know what’s going through the heads of the responsible folks at Reebok, but this story broke almost a week ago and they’ve yet to issue a statement. We personally love us some hip-hop, and we get the appeal behind signing edgy personalities to shill for your brand. But at this point Reebok only has two options that we can see: defend those lyrics in some vague way or drop Rick Ross. We strongly suggest that they go with the latter.