Rick Ross Date Rape Lyric Apology: Too Little, Too Late? [Op-Ed]

Rick Ross issues official apology for date rape lyrics

COMMENTARY | Rick Ross has officially issued a formal apology for his date rape lyrics in the song “U.O.E.N.O. (You Don’t Even Know It).”

After much backlash, which included protests from women’s rights groups and being dropped from Reebok, the rapper has finally released what appears to be a genuine apology, calling the lyrics “one of my biggest mistakes and regrets.”

The former correctional officer, whose real name is William Roberts, previously “apologized” on Twitter, but many doubted the sincerity of the message. Ross wrote, “I don’t condone rape. Apologies for the lyrics interpreted as rape.”

This newest apology puts the rapper’s denunciation of the lyric in a personal context, as he states that he is first and foremost “a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world.” He then goes on to say, “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.”

Ross’ full statement reads as follows:

“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’)”

Sounds good, right?

But why is this official statement coming out a week and a half after the travesty that was the first “apology”? Shouldn’t Ross’ first course of action have been to hire a PR or crisis management team once he saw the backlash he was getting? While the above apology sounds nice, the timing is no accident. This statement was not issued until the day after Ross was dropped by Reebok. Not only that, but he also thanked Reebok for their partnership on Twitter the same day.

It seem a bit telling, and perhaps even a little ironic, that Ross’ Twitter handle is Mastermind. The statement, the praise of Reebok, all of it seems like a well-crafted ploy to keep to protect the rapper’s true interest: his money. Maybe he does sincerely feel bad about the lyric. But he didn’t feel bad enough about it to: 1) Not write the lyric in the first place or 2) Apologize immediately after the lyric started gaining attention. His entire response is reactive when it should have been proactive, and because of that, it’s hard to take him seriously.

Ross says the lyrics don’t reflect his “true heart,” and that could very well be the truth. As the father of a daughter, it would be frightening if he truly believed rapping about drugging a woman and then having sex with her was OK in any way, shape, or form. As a former correctional officer, who most likely supervised actual rapists in the 18 months he spent in uniform, Ross should understand that rape is a very serious matter.

This isn’t to say that Ross does not genuinely feel remorse for the lyric. But the question is why does he feel bad? Because he legitimately realized how stupid it was to rap about putting molly in a girl’s drink and then having sex with her, even though he doesn’t “condone rape” — which is irrelevant, by the way — and we’re supposed to accept that he isn’t advocating it? Or because it cost him an endorsement and radio play, which all means less money in his pocket?

The evidence simply does not support the supposed genuineness of the statement but, as Ross stated, it has certainly sparked a dialogue about rape — and to a lesser extent, drug — culture. Perhaps this incident will serve as a lesson to other artists to really consider what they’re singing or rapping about, not for the sake of sales, but for the sake of their daughters. And for the sake of their sons, who are constantly bombarded with messages that falsely inform them that consent is optional.

Too often, especially in instances such as the Steubenville rape case and Audrie Pott’s suicide, it seems like a recurring theme is that we as a society need to teach our young men not to rape. When we collectively speak up and speak out, we are saying, “This is not OK and we will not accept it.” We are saying that there are consequences to rape, and that there are consequences to implying that rape is acceptable. By taking away Rick Ross’ endorsements, taking his songs off the radio, and boycotting his music, we are sending a message that we will no longer be complacent in accepting rape and the treatment of rape as the norm.

At the end of the day, no one but Rick Ross knows what is in his heart and soul, and if he really views rape as abhorrent. If he truly believes that, then an apology is not enough. It’s easy to put pretty words down on paper or online. But there needs to be action behind the apology as well, whether that be in the form of a donation to a rape prevention program, making a video condemning rape, or in some way contributing to dismantling the culture of rape that seems to becoming even more relentless by the day.

Until he does that, this apology is a feigned attempt at remorse, and we should not feel obligated to accept it.