Looks like the Boss has been fired.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding his date-rape-endorsing lyrics on the track “U.O.E.N.O.,” Reebok has acquiesced to the multiple women’s groups who called for Ross’ ouster as an endorser of its shoes.
In a statement made to TMZ, the shoe company said, “Reebok holds our partners to a high standard, and we expect them to live up to the values of our brand. Unfortunately, Rick Ross has failed to do so. 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.”
One of the groups calling for Ross’ ouster, UltraViolet, released a statement last night about the news. “We are thrilled to hear that Reebok is joining the fight against rape culture and dropping Rick Ross. … This sends a strong message that rapping about drugging and raping an unconscious woman is not only morally wrong, but has real consequences. After Steubenville, Americans expect and demand better. Thank you Reebok for taking a stand.”
Ross has been particularly tone deaf in his response to the outcry over his verse on rapper Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O.” Rather than simply walk back the line, he told a New Orleans radio station that the response to the song was because “there was a misunderstanding with the lyric, a misinterpretation.” That was compounded by a similarly misguided defense by fellow rapper and labelmate Meek Mill.
The offending lines in question were, “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.”
“U.O.E.N.O” was originally released by Rocko on his mixtape Gift of Gab 2, though the song was targeted by several women’s groups in the wake of Steubenville, where two high-school athletes were found guilty of raping an inebriated classmate. Rocko has since remixed the song, jettisoning Ross’ verse in favor of a more acceptable turn by Wiz Khalifa.
UPDATE: Ross released an official statement about the Reebok news and the “U.O.E.N.O.” lyrics:
“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. As an artist, one of the most liberating things is being able to paint pictures with my words. But with that comes a great responsibility. And most recently, my choice of words was not only offensive, it does not reflect my true heart. And for this, I apologize. To every woman that has felt the sting of abuse, I apologize. I recognize that as an artist I have a voice and with that, the power of influence. To the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it. To my fans, I also apologize if I have disappointed you. I can only hope that this sparks a healthy dialogue and that I can contribute to it.” —William Roberts (a.k.a “Rick Ross”)