Lil Baby’s 2017 triple-platinum hit “Freestyle” — specifically its use of the n-word — has landed Chelsea soccer star Mykhailo Mudryk in hot water.
The 22-year-old winger, who joined the Premier League club in a $75 million transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk in his native Ukraine earlier this month, used the racial slur while rapping along to the song in a video posted to TikTok last July.
The since-deleted clip, which was viewed over 200,000 times, recently resurfaced on social media in the wake of his big-money move to London, bringing the hotly-tipped talent under fire. Mudryk’s team issued an apology shortly after, insisting he didn’t mean to cause any offense.
“Mykhailo is deeply sorry for any offence caused by the video posted on his TikTok account last July,” his representative said in a statement. “Whilst his intention was solely to recite lyrics of a song, Mykhailo regrets his decision and wholeheartedly accepts it was not appropriate. The video has since been removed.”
Still, that hasn’t stopped some of English soccer’s biggest and most powerful organizations from taking action. According to The Athletic, the Football Association — the country’s governing body of soccer — has launched an investigation into the matter.
Leading anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, meanwhile, condemned Mudryk’s use of the n-word, regardless of its context.
“Kick It Out condemns the use of all racial slurs, including the N-word irrespective of context,” it said in a statement. “The N-word is deeply offensive and the use of this term by high-profile figures in football can only serve to alienate people from the game.
The statement continued: “It is important that footballers use their significant platform in a positive way, and we’re encouraged to see that Mykhailo Mudryk has acknowledged the hurt caused by his use of this offensive slur.”
While it remains to be seen whether Mudryk will be punished over the video, the FA hasn’t been shy in punishing the use of racial slurs in the past.
In 2021, former Manchester United striker and Uruguayan international Edison Cavani was given a three-game ban and £100,000 ($123,000) fine for using the word “negrito” in an Instagram post to a friend.
In one of the most high-profile cases of racism in the Premier League, fellow Uruguayan Luis Suárez (who at the time played for Liverpool) was handed an eight-match suspension and £40,000 ($49,000) fine in 2011 after he was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a game between the rival clubs.
Mykhailo Mudryk is far from the only white rap fan to face backlash for using the n-word while reciting lyrics. Last year, a Wu-Tang Clan from the UK was fined £500 ($617) for using the racial slur while recording himself rapping along to “Protect Ya Neck” for TikTok in a women’s bathroom stall.
Back in 2018, a white woman was checked by none other than Kendrick Lamar after she failed to censor herself while performing “m.A.A.d city” onstage with him at Hangout Music Festival in Alabama. After she dropped three n-bombs, Kendrick cut the music and politely gave her a second chance, explaining that she “gotta bleep one single word.”[via]