Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rapper Cole apologizes for offensive autism lyric

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SAN DIEGO -- Rapper J. Cole is apologizing to those with autism and their families for an offensive lyric.

Cole says in a blog post 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."

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.

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."

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2013 C2

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