Rocko rap tune “U.O.E.N.O.” featured lyrics from Rick Ross that were widely seen to condone the drugging and raping of women. It led to protests against Reebok, which had a promotion deal with Ross, as well as a call for the licenses of radio stations that played the song.
Reebok, in response to pressure from women’s organizations, has terminated its relationship with Ross.
Ross initially tried to say that he said nothing inflammatory and that his words were being misinterpreted. That likely only made matters worse for him.
Clear Channel’s WWPR-FM New York also received special attention: Rap Rehab Founder and PTC Advisory Board Member Paul Porter said, “I am sure that ‘date rape’ is unacceptable in the workplace for the more than 20,000 people that Clear Channel Communications employs. So that same standard should be applicable to the audience that Power 105 in New York is licensed to serve. Responsibility should have no boundaries.”
Ross has now attempted to come clean with a strong apology, and even used his real name, William Roberts, when he signed it. He said, “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.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The indecency rules do not prohibit incredibly ugly content. This is a price of freedom of speech that most of us are aware of and respect, in part because we know that living in a society that includes a class of content police would be completely unacceptable.
That said, there is no right to airplay.
Reebok did not ask Ross to write his objectionable lyrics, and it got splattered by the backlash.
Any radio station that played this song is far more deserving of a public shaming, since it supposedly knew what it was putting on the air. But that’s just one opinion, and it doesn’t give anybody the right to rescind the station’s license on an indecency charge.