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J. Cole and Drake are compelling lyricists, so when the pair collaborate, there’s usually excitement about the results. But not everyone was thrilled after hearing the rappers’ “Jodeci Freestyle,” a freewheeling song that Cole ended up apologizing for.
“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,” Cole wrote in an apology letter to advocacy organization Autism Speaks. He posted the note on his Dreamvillian site on Sunday.
The line that Cole caught some heat for finds him making reference to the developmental disorder as he lyrically berates his hip-hop competition: “I’m artistic, you n—as is autistic, retarded.”
According to autism advocates, Cole’s verse on Drake’s June release makes light of people living with the disorder, and the North Carolina MC seemed to agree.
“I was instantly embarrassed that I would be ignorant enough [to] say something so hurtful,” Cole continued. “What makes the crime worse is that I should have known better.”
Cole went on to acknowledge the recent rash of rapper apologies, though he didn’t name drop Rick Ross, Lil Wayne or Tyler, the Creator, who have all recently issued apologies (of sorts) after public outcry stemming from their lyrics.
“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,” Cole stated in his letter. “With that said, this is not the case today. This letter is sincere. This apology IS necessary.”
The Change.org petition calling for an apology from Cole has tallied more than 4,500 signatures and since been closed. The Roc Nation rapper, who graduated from St. John’s University in New York, said he now wants to educate himself on the disorder.
“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,” he concluded.