Rev. Al Sharpton attends the Ebony Power 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 2, 2012 in New York City
*Officials from PepsiCo Inc. are scheduled to meet today with members of Emmett Till’s family and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton continued to press for the meeting last week after the company’s partnerships with Lil Wayne and Tyler, the Creator, of Odd Future to promote Mountain Dew sparked controversies.
PepsiCo and Lil Wayne have since parted over creative differences after the rapper’s offensive lyrics related to the civil rights icon Till. The company also pulled a commercial directed by Tyler that angered anti-violence and civil rights advocates.
The meeting to be held at PepisCo headquarters in Purchase comes as an outcry over offensive lyrics increases. Reebok recently ended its partnership with Rick Ross for similar reasons.
Sharpton said last week that corporations have a civic responsibility when deciding who they partner with.
*Odd Future rapper Tyler the Creator is calling the criticism surrounding his online ad for Mountain Dew “ridiculous,” particularly the blog post written by Syracuse University professor and social analyst Dr. Boyce Watkins, who called the spot “arguably the most racist commercial in history.”
On Wednesday, PepsiCo removed the spot after it was criticized for portraying racial stereotypes and making light of violence toward women. In the 60-second ad, a battered white woman on crutches is urged by an officer to identify a suspect out of a lineup of black men that includes Odd Future’s Left Brain and L-Boy and Trash Talk’s Garrett Stevenson along with a talking goat. The ad offended some who noted all the suspects were black and all of the cops were white.
Tyler quickly offered via Twitter to have a conversation with Dr. Watkins, but by Thursday morning, Watkins had backtracked a bit.
“Studied your music, I have an altered perspective,” wrote Watkins on Twitter. “Still could do without the ad, but I think you were well-intended. #respect.”
That was followed this morning with Watkins’ posting a 22-minute video discussing the issue and his respect for Tyler as an artist, the upshot of which is: “When it comes to that ad with all the stereotypes that were being presented to the American public… [who made the ad] doesn’t change what the public sees… [I still feel] the ad is not OK.” Tyler and Watkins have tweeted multiple times about the article and the situation.]
On Thursday afternoon, Tyler, the Creator spoke exclusively with Billboard about the controversy and Dr. Watkins’ video above:
What was the initial idea for the Mountain Dew ads?
Tyler, the Creator: It was just a goat who liked Mountain Dew. He wanted more. The waitress lady got hurt. He got pulled over by the cops, and the lady points out the goat [in the line-up], who obviously attacked her because of the Mountain Dew. And that’s it.
I guess people are claiming that it’s racist, which… you know, that wasn’t even portrayed in that commercial, there’s no type of hate being portrayed in that work of art at all — which I’m confused by. But this older black dude, Dr. Boyce Watkins, I guess he found it racist because I was portraying stereotypes, which is ridiculous because, one, all of those dudes [in the line-up] are my friends. Two, they’re all basically in their own clothes. It was originally supposed to be just two dudes, but Garrett from Trash Talk came with his friend and other people had showed up, so I just put all of them in that line-up, if you really wanna know the truth. Three, no [commenters] saw that commercial and said, this is racist. Everyone either said, “Wow, this is ridiculous, it’s a goat talking,” or they said, “Wow, this is the dumbest, why would they even make this?” So for [Watkins] to nitpick and notice that, clearly shows his state of mind is on some other sh– that I can’t comprehend, for him to actually sit there and for him to notice that it’s all blacks [in the lineup]. That wasn’t my intention.
It was crazy. It’s a black guy making this, and if it’s so racist and feeding into stereotypes, why in the first commercial that goes along with it, is there a black male with his Asian wife? In the second commercial, it’s a black male with a professional job as a police officer listening to hardcore rock music — which supposedly the stereotype is that black people don’t listen to that. The stereotypes are what I’m confused on, no one was even thinking about that. I was focused on that first zoom shot over their shoulders. That’s what I was stoked on. You know why? Cause I like film, and I like directing, and that’s where my heart was set. I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, let’s use all black [people]” or whatever. I wanted to use my friends. You know why? ‘Cause I don’t like using other actors. You can look at every one of my videos, and my friends are always in it. Saying that I’m racist — every video I got, Lucas is in it! He’s a little scrawny white kid. So what is this dude talking about?
Do you want to explain the context of the ad, and your sense of humor? People who don’t follow you might not know that Felicia the Goat is one of your running jokes. Can you explain the origins of the goat in your repertoire?
It’s just a goat. I just think a goat is funny. It’s no deeper meaning. They said, “Tyler, you can come up with any commercial that you want.” I said, “You wanna know what’s funny to me and my friends? An animal talking.” Why? Cause animals don’t talk in real life, so let’s make an animal talk. What’s a funny animal? A f—ing goat.
Dr. Boyce Watkins
You reached out on Twitter to Dr. Watkins saying that you would like to talk to him. This morning, he Tweeted at you and revised his opinion of your intent.
I read that. “I take back what I said.” [Note: Watkins actually said "I have an altered perspective."] Because you’re so quick to judge something that you don’t know the context, you’re so quick to call me a racist and other stuff, but he didn’t know where I was coming from. But then he looked at what I have actually done, and now he wants to take his statement back. “My daughters listen to you.” Okay, that’s confusing, because if I’m such a racist, and such a bad person, and feeding negativity to the youth, why are your daughters listening to me? That shows you’re a bad parent and a hypocrite if your daughters are listening to me and I’m such a bad person.
Then again, I look at it from his perspective. He’s an older black man. It’s a generation gap. He’s older than me. So the things that he had to experience with racism and stereotypes and being a black man in this country, is different from mine. I grew up in a generation where there’s white kids listening to rap and black kids playing hockey, breaking the norms and everything. He comes from a whole different state of mind when he sees that stuff. He probably was getting f—ed with by white people when he was my age. So for him to always have to break the [stereotype] of being a “black thug” when he was growing up, and for him to see that in a commercial, it probably hurts him.
But he has to realize that it’s a different generation now. He’s way older than me; he’s old enough to be my father. So I totally get why he would think that, but I also don’t understand why in life are you trying to point out the negatives. It’s a young black man who got out of the ‘hood and made something of himself, who’s now working with big, white-owned corporations. Not even in front of the camera acting silly, but directing it. I’m trying to be one of the directors. But instead of looking at the positivity from that, he’s trying to boycott Mountain Dew. Now that he’s doing that, not only is it messing up opportunities for me, but also maybe opportunities for another young black male who maybe looks up to me and wants to do that in the future. It’s ludicrous.
Foxx told MTV: “Elton John did it. For Frank Ocean to do it and be hip-hop and black, he’s breaking ground, and kudos to him. At the end of the day, his music is for everybody.” Joking, he added “Now when I put his music on, I am trying to get at the ladies. Frank, you helping me out. You done left more for me, Frank.”
Foxx, currently filming Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” went on to say that he thought Ocean’s admission meant that it was only matter of time before many more artists in the rap and hip hop community do the same.
“I have several friends who live in darkness and live in fear, and it’s just time,” he said.
Meanwhile, 50 Cent told MTV: “Anyone that has an issue with Frank Ocean is an idiot.
“I think Frank Ocean is a talented artist, I think he’s created material that made me know his name, that impressed me, with things he said on a song like Novacane,” the rapper continued.
50 – real name Curtis Jackson – then compared Ocean’s situation to late R&B icon Luther Vandross or Intro singer Kenny Greene.
Vandross was rumored to be gay, though such reports were never confirmed. Greene however, admitted in a 2001 interview that he was bisexual shortly before he died from complications caused by AIDS.
“There are artists before who have made these choices just not having made the choice to expose it to the general public before an actual release of music,” said 50.
“Obama is for same-sex marriage,” 50 pointed out. “If the president is saying that, then who am I to go the other way?”
*A photographer who claimed Odd Future member Left Brain (born Vyron Turner) assaulted her at last month’s Voodoo Experience festival in New Orleans filed charges against the MC on Friday, reports MTV News.
Amy Harris accused Turner of slapping her across the face and knocking her camera lens to the ground in the Oct. 30 incident. A representative for the New Orleans Police Department confirmed for MTV News that the single charge of simple battery had been filed and that a detective has been assigned to investigate.
Harris would not comment further, referring all questions to a Los Angeles law firm handling her case. In a statement released Sunday, she wrote, “It is my understanding that a police report I filed in New Orleans on Friday has now become public knowledge and is being reported on various websites. At this time, I do not wish to discuss the filing of the police report other than to say that, upon further reflection of events of the past week, it is something I needed to do. The week’s events have been extremely upsetting.”
Harris added that she decided to go to police after receiving anonymous email threats about the incident.
The charge carries a jail term of up to six months and up to $1,000 in fines. The incident, in which Harris claims the rapper swatted the photographer in the head and knocked the lens off her camera while leaving her with a red welt on her face, came during Odd Future’s set at the annual festival.
Harris has released a photo she took in which Turner can be seen bending down and looking directly into the camera with his right hand coming forward in a swinging motion as he grits his teeth.
Turner has not commented on the charges filed, but in a since-removed post on his Tumblr — in which he posted Harris’ photo — he wrote, “I didn’t slap that old bi—. Everybody seen that sh–. Idgaf though. F— her and f— the media. I’m not stupid and I’m not lettin nobody sue me for my paper. It’s my job to slap cameras out the way so like I said before, f— your opinion your blog and ya peeps. Ha.”
A spokesperson for the festival released a statement after the incident, which read, “The Voodoo Experience does not in any way condone the behavior of Odd Future towards the approved media assembled in the photo pit during the band’s set. … Festival organizers would like to apologize to their media guests who experienced and/or witnessed this abusive behavior.”
But in a statement to Pitchfork, the band’s spokesperson denied the incident. “There simply is no truth to the accusation floating around the internet. It’s no secret that Odd Future has a love/hate relationship with photographers at shows simply because sometimes they are given access the group wishes their fans would have instead. After telling the photographers to clear out multiple times (as they’ve done before) Vyron (Leftbrain) took a swipe at a few cameras, NOT people. To manipulate the situation to insinuate an attack on a woman specifically is careless and manipulative.”
*Although it may seem longer than it has been, the happy, handsome couple Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated three years of marriage with a trip to the Bahamas over the weekend. Of course they were bombarded with plenty of cameras and press, but they were able to finally find some secret space to enjoy each other’s company.
The couple dated for some time, but finally made it official with an intimate wedding attended by close friends and family in 2008. Over the years, the two have endured rumors, bad press, and of course internal drama. But here they are three years strong.
In other news, Beyonce’s fourth album is due June this year and depending on various reports, she has either already signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation or is contemplating signing with her husband’s company. This, after departing from her father, Mathew Knowles’ management company last week.
In the meantime, she recently previewed the album for some bigwigs at Sony Music and they were just blown away.
“It was just amazing,” Denis Handlin, a Sony exec., told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, “These songs, the best description I can give is groundbreaking. She’s gone to another level.”
While the details about the album are scant, Beyonce went in for a photo shoot in New Jersey on the set of her new music video for an untitled single. Also, we know that she’s been in the studio with Frank Ocean of Odd Future, and worked with Jim Jonsin, The Dream and Ne-Yo among others.