NEW YORK – Rapper Twista, who was tapped by McDonald's to perform during its nationwide concert series, has been dropped from the lineup because of his "controversial lyrics," the fast food giant said Monday.
The Chicago rapper is better known for his lightning-fast rap delivery than particularly raunchy content: His hits include "Slow Jamz," with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, and "Overnight Celebrity." However, he does use explicit language and reference drugs in his some of his rhymes.
McDonald's, which initially signed the rapper to perform in Chicago for its 10-city concert series, said it could no longer support Twista for the Aug. 7 performance.
"Although we respect free speech and artistic expression, we do not condone or perpetuate derogatory language," said spokesman William Whitman in a statement. "We want to ensure these free concerts are fun as well as appropriate for all of our customers."
When asked why they booked the rapper, given his content, the company referred back to the statement.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Twista said that in some ways, he was surprised by the announcement, "especially after hearing from certain people that represented McDonald's that they were fans of the music and they were excited about the whole thing and that they backed me, and then to hear a few a days later that I was actually not on the show."
However, he blamed the increased criticism of hip-hop in the wake of the racial flap over former CBS radio and MSNBC broadcaster Don Imus for putting pressure on the corporate giant to drop him from the series.
"They started hearing things ... feeling like they were getting a little flak, and I felt like rather than stick by me and stick through it, they got scared," he said. "I've been rapping the same way for 15 years. It only became a problem when Don Imus said something negative about black women and they needed a scapegoat."
After Imus was fired for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," some critics decried what they considered a double standard for rappers who often use derogatory terms about women. Increased pressure was put on rappers and record labels to clean up offensive content.
Twista said that typically, when he performs at events that are more mainstream and that attract kids, he cleans up his lyrics, and had intended to do so for the Chicago performance.
"I was actually going to have a school with a choir come sing the song 'Hope' with me. So now ... McDonald's have to tell the kids that they can't perform."