Shoe manufacturer Reebok says it has fired U.S. rapper Rick Ross as a spokesman because he failed to live up to the values associated with the brand.
The move comes after Ross was widely criticized for singing about slipping the drug ecstasy into his date's drink, then having sex with her, in the song "U.O.E.N.O"
"Put Molly all in the champagne. She ain't even know it. I took her home and I enjoy that. She ain't even know it," the song goes.
Protesters who objected to the message in Ross' song recently protested outside a Reebok store in New York, demanding the company drop Ross as an ambassador for the brand.
Ross responded to the controversy by apologizing and saying he doesn't condone rape. Reebok, however, said his mea culpa was not enough.
"Reebok holds our partners to a high standard, and we expect them to live up to the values of our brand. Unfortunately, Rick Ross has failed to do so," the company said in a statement issued to TMZ Thursday. "While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse."
"Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world," Ross said in a statement Friday. "So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets. As an artist, one of the most liberating things is being able to paint pictures with my words. But with that comes a great responsibility. And most recently, my choice of words was not only offensive, it does not reflect my true heart. And for this, I apologize. To every woman that has felt the sting of abuse, I apologize. I recognize that as an artist I have a voice and with that, the power of influence. To the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it's wrong and I do not encourage it. To my fans, I also apologize if I have disappointed you. I can only hope that this sparks a healthy dialogue and that I can contribute to it."