Toronto rapper Drake has apologized and promised to erase a controversial reference to autism from his song Jodeci (Freestyle).
The controversial line in question was uttered by North Carolina rapper J. Cole.
In Drake’s song, Cole raps that he’s “artistic” while his rivals are “autistic, retarded.”
The lyric spawned an online petition in protest of the song and received the support of the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
Cole apologized for the lyric on Sunday, writing in his blog that he wanted to educate himself about the condition and adding that there’s “nothing cool about mean-spirited comments about someone with autism.”
Drake followed with a blog post of his own on Monday.
“Individuals with autism have brilliant and creative minds, and their gifts should not be disparaged or discounted,” he wrote. “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.”
Offensive hip-hop rhymes have been in the spotlight in recent months.
In April, Reebok cut ties with rapper Rick Ross after he courted controversy with a lyric that suggested he supported date rape, prompting Ross to apologize.
And in May, New Orleans rap star Lil Wayne lost endorsements from Pepsi for using the racially charged 1955 slaying of youth Emmett Till as part of a sexual reference. He also subsequently apologized.