I was on YouTube one day and ran across a video of R. Kelly, circa early 2002, in a Reebok commercial. Here was the biggest R&B star on the planet on a commercial with one of the biggest sports equipment companies on the plant, as well. But, I couldn't help but think that maybe that was the first and last commercial he made for the company, before he was more and likely dropped stemming his future child pornography charges. R. Kelly was at his peak until that infamous sex tape was released, and now, 11 years later, Reebok had to pull its urban puppeteer Rick Ross under allegations he promotes date rape in his lyrics. The now infamous lyric from the Rocko song, U.O.E.N.O, cost Ross millions, but it also has crossed over into popularity via memes, ironically.
R. Kelly and Rick Ross are both the same type of artists in terms of upkeep of their persona. Kelly whose persona is a sex driven R&B crooner who delves off into the party life of drugs and weed. And Rick Ross, whose persona is a drug kingpin gangsta, also shares the party life of drugs, sex, etc. Both of the musicians’ topics of choice would be obviously frowned upon by various communities ranging from the black community, to those who preach against violence, advocates of safe sex, etc. Although a plethora of groups could have easily protested the two artists (R. Kelly, pre Chocolate Factory, at the time) promotion of drug use and offensive language in their songs, they didn't. Reebok, the same company who was worried about their image signed Rick Ross to project himself to the urban youth. Nothing is better than a Grammy nominated, gold selling on a consistent basis, rapper whom a kid can think about being like when they are trying to decide between new Nike's or Reebok.
This same corporation is basically stating they don't care if you're a drug kingpin who has no care in your records. Or that you've told tales of murder and vigilante violence. They also don’t care if drug use such as “molly” is promoted. The only way they will care, sadly, is if someone is messing up the money train. Then, the artist is dropped, because they begin to state they are putting moral standards into play. And the artist is put out of millions of dollars, even though that company knowingly condoned the artist in the first place. These corporations are neither stupid, nor oblivious.
There is a video going viral on the Internet, where a Pastor named Michael T. Smith openly points out what Reebok's fingers were behind their backs. His truth-telling was also the inspiration for my article. Sure, Ross is marketable to youth and give-and-take, is one of the more popular rappers in America. His content of drugs, selling drugs and murder is, before Reebok dropped him, someone of “high standards,” so to speak. But as the Pastor points out, he would "Still have a job if you took out those two lyrics." Lyrics that contained "re-rock" (drugs) "Got a hundred rounds in this AR" (drugs) and then literal gunplay "I'm bout to get you n****s wacked" (murder).
The Pastor's point was if all of these things were his topics before you signed him, where was the moral clause and high standards when he was first signed? Where Reeboks’ standards were when R. Kelly was signed pre-child sex scandal? Rick Ross, according to Pastor Smith, should still have a job and I agree with him. After enough push from Bill O'Reilly, Ludacris was dropped from Pepsi, too, for the same reasons Rick Ross should have never been signed (from a hypothetical standpoint).
I love Rick Ross as an artist, and sure, date rape and rapping about date rape is very wrong, but the painter should never stand on top of his protégés head to make his work more pleasant to art buyers. This whole situation is equivalent to a woman who gets sick very often, and her boyfriend finds out she has the flu and refuses to take care of her even though he knowingly, knew she was prone to sickness. Just as the boyfriend should know his girlfriend could get sick easily, Reebok knew that Rick Ross wasn't exactly a rapper who walked around with soap in his mouth. On top of that, if there is going to be advocacy on date rape, it should be advocacy universally on the subject matter he and many other rappers talk about.
In the end, Rick Ross was used, pimped, and was a puppet who played its part in the game of corporate America, and now has to sit down. Hopefully, this whole issue raises awareness to those who are oblivious to the wheeling and dealing of these big time companies. But for Rick Ross part, he has to know how to play the game. Ask Jay-Z.