Rapper J. Cole is apologizing to those with autism and their families for an offensive lyric.
Cole says in a blog post Sunday that he doesn’t agree with the recent trend of pressure rappers have faced to apologize when they step over a perceived line, but in this case he feels he went too far in a verse he contributed to Drake’s “Jodeci Freestyle.”
“To the parents who are fighting through the frustrations that must come with raising a child with severe autism, finding strength and patience that they never knew they had; to the college student with Asperger’s syndrome; to all those overcoming autism,” Cole wrote. “You deserve medals, not disrespect. I hope you accept my sincere apology.”
Cole believes in artistic freedom and says he views envelope pushing in music the same way he does in comedy: “It’s going to ruffle some feathers at times.”
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Rap has a long history of often-intentional offensive lyrics, but special interest groups have successfully used social media to elicit apologies recently after pressuring the companies who partner with them.
Lil Wayne and PepsiCo decided to part ways after the New Orleans rapper offended the family of Civil Rights figure Emmett Till. Wayne stopped short of an apology to Till’s family privately in a letter, but expressed regret for the lyric. And Rick Ross and Reebok split after the Miami rapper issued a verse about using a drug to clandestinely incapacitate a woman before having sex with her.
Cole has been in the spotlight this summer after his recent album “Born Sinner” jockeyed with Kanye West’s “Yeezus” when released last month and reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 the following week. That album also contains moments that some might consider offensive. In Drake’s song, Cole raps that he’s “artistic” while his rivals are “autistic, retarded.”
Cole wrote that when he first heard a backlash from those who deal with the developmental disorder he immediately realized he went too far.
“I was instantly embarrassed that I would be ignorant enough say something so hurtful,” Cole wrote. “What makes the crime worse is that I should have known better.”
Cole goes on to write that he’s inspired by those who reached out to him: “I have now read stories online from parents about their struggles and triumphs with raising an autistic child and I admire how incredibly strong you have to be to do so,” he wrote. “It’s touching. It also makes what I said even more embarrassing for me. I feel real shame.”