An autistic rapper is offended by J. Cole‘s lyrics on Drake‘s new song “Jodeci Freestyle.” On the popular song, which is actually gaining radio airplay, Cole raps negatively about autism in his lyrics, saying “I’m artistic, you ni**as is autistic, retarded.” Reading those lyrics, you can see why anybody affected by autism may not like what J. Cole said.
A rapper who suffers from autism and previously listened to J. Cole‘s music, is speaking out against the Fayetteville, North Carolina emcee the only way he knows how…in his own rap video he posted to YouTube.
The young autistic rapper (Russell Lehmann) isn’t the only one speaking out against J. Cole‘s autism insult though. In a post on AutismSpeaks.org, one of the biggest website online for autism awareness, they say J. Cole is spreading negative stereotypes about the disorder.
Lyrics from the recently released song “Jodeci Freestyle” from hip hop artists Drake and J.Cole have many in the autism community up in arms. The song, which was released last month and is now getting airplay, contains the following lyric by J. Cole: “I’m artistic, you n—-s is autistic, retarded.”
These lyrics are offensive and perpetuate negative stereotypes. There are many inspiring individuals with autism and other disabilities who have achieved great success across a variety of artforms, including music. We encourage J. Cole to recognize their talents and learn from the positive example they have set for all of us.
Update: J. Cole posted on his blog a sincere apology to those affected by his lyrics. Read what he had to say below.
Recently there’s been a trend that includes rappers saying something
offensive, only to be attacked for it in the media and pressured to
apologize. I have to be completely honest and say there’s a part of me
that resents that. I view rap similar to how I view comedy. It’s going
to ruffle feathers at times. It’s going to go “too far”. I do not
believe that an apology is needed every time someone is offended,
especially when that apology is really only for the sake of saving an
endorsement or cleaning up bad press.
With that said, this is not the case today. This letter is sincere.
This apology IS necessary.
In a recent verse on the song “Jodeci Freestyle”, I said something
highly offensive to people with Autism. Last week, when I first saw a
comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away
that what I said was wrong. I was instantly embarrassed that I would
be ignorant enough say something so hurtful. What makes the crime
worse is that I should have known better.
To the entire Autism community who expressed outrage, I’m moved and
inspired by your passion, and I’m amazed at how strong you are as a
unit. 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. It’s touching. It also
makes what I said even more embarrassing for me. I feel real shame.
You have every right to be angry.
To anyone suffering from Autism, either mildly or severely, I am
sorry. I’m bound to make mistakes in my life, but in my heart I just
want to spread Love.
I want to educate myself more on Autism, and I’ll gladly own my
mistake and serve as an example to today’s generation that there’s
nothing cool about mean-spirited comments about someone with Autism.
People with this disorder and their loved ones have to go through so
much already, the last thing they need is to hear something as
ignorant as what I said. I understand.
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. You deserve
medals, not disrespect. I hope you accept my sincere apology.
Update 2: Autistic rapper Russell Lehmann has accepted J. Cole‘s apology.
— Russell Lehmann (@AutisticPoet) July 22, 2013
Update 3: Drake has now also issued an official apology via his blog. Good on both artists to own up to their mistakes.
J.Cole wrote a beautiful and moving apology to individuals and families affected by autism who were understandably hurt by a verse in “Jodeci Freestyle”. I share responsibility and offer my sincerest apologies for the pain this has caused. Individuals with autism have brilliant and creative minds, and their gifts should not be disparaged or discounted. This was a learning lesson for both of us, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to try to right this wrong. J. Cole and I believe that it is the right, responsible, and respectful decision to remove the lyric from the song.
Autism affects 1 in 88 children, and 1 in 54 boys. Click here to learn the signs of autism and donate here.