Atlanta hip-hop artist Rocko has stepped up to address the controversy surrounding his original “U.E.O.N.O” record and, specfically, why Rick Ross should not have lost his Reebok endorsement deal.
In Rocko’s perspective, Reebok owes Ricky Rozay for all of the interest he sparked back into the brand in recent years.
“As far as the Reebok thing, I don’t think that was fair because what he brought to Reebok. People in my neighborhood, in my city, they’re back wearing Reeboks,” Rocko said about the sneaker giant and its popularity among rap fans. “It was a cardinal sin to wear Reebok before Ross started promoting ‘em. Ross stepped in and he branded ‘em and he got the urban market back in to ‘em.” (MTV)
Reebok issued a formal statement heading into the weekend about cutting its ties with Rozay.
Athletic goods retailer Reebok on Thursday terminated its relationship with rapper Rick Ross, whose song featuring lyrics that seem to boast about drugging and raping a woman has caused an uproar. “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,” Reebok, a subsidiary of Germany company Adidas, said in a statement. “At this time, it is in everyone’s best interest for Reebok to end its partnership with Mr. Ross,” it said. Ross had an endorsement deal with the company and promoted its shoes in print and TV commercials. (Reuters)
Following the news, the “Boss” issued a statement on losing his endorsement.
“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.” (Statement)
Much like the sneaker empire, Rocko also parted ways with Ross’ verse on the original “U.O.E.N.O.”
“I went in and did the record and it was from my mixtape, I knew it was a good song but I ain’t have a clue that the streets would be so receptive to it. I ‘ain’t’ even know it.’ [laughs] With that being said, the record instantly became a smash over the [NBA] All-Star Weekend and stuff like that and it just became a smash in the streets. With me, I feel like I’m a street artist, I feel the record with Ross, that’ll always be the original record but because of the type of traction that the record has as far as like radio and all over the country — it puts me in a position where I have to change it. Right now, at the present moment, I have six different verses from all types of very talented, multi-faceted artists – witih all respect to the homie Ross, because when I reached out to him about the record, I sent it to him and he sent it right back. You gotta salute that — it’s crazy because it’s a Catch-22, I don’t want to take him off but one thing for certain is it’s set in stone that he’s always going to be on that song. … It doesn’t matter who I put on the song, it’s always going to be the original version of it. It’s not like I can do another verse and say, ‘Okay, this is the original right here.'” (Hot 97)