It has long been a line that has puzzled many folks (Jesus? Why’s he paying LeBron?), but as of two weeks ago, Cleveland’s 96.5FM WAKS wants to alleviate all confusion. In the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys hit “Empire State of Mind,” the folks behind the scenes at Cleveland’s KISS FM affiliate have decided to edit the word “LeBron” as found within the song’s second verse.
What was once “[If] Jeezy’s paying LeBron, I’m paying Dwyane Wade” – a reference towards the purchase price of an illegal drug – is now relatively indecipherable as the two-time NBA MVP’s name is edited – or as female hip-hop star Missy Elliot calls, “flipped and reversed.”
WFNY caught up with the man behind the decision, night time disc jockey (“Java”) Joel Murphy, to discuss the move. Murphy tells us that the decision was more of an epiphany, but its one that the station feels resonates well with Clevelanders given their well-documented feelings towards the departed James.
“I was playing the song and realized that the word “LeBron” is as offensive to some people as the ‘Seven Words You Can’t Say On The Radio,’” said Murphy. “Anytime one of those words shows up in a song, we either bleep it, cut it out completely or obscure it by flipping it backwards. So, I suggested to our programming dept that we should treat the name “LeBron” similarly.”
This is not the first boycott of Murphy’s as he was one of the first DJs in the nation to pull R&B star Chris Brown’s music from the station’s shelves amidst the 21-year old’s assault allegations in 2009. Given all of the vitriol spewed towards James over the last two weeks, the decision to edit his name is well-timed. The song, which has gone three-times platinum since its release on October 20, 2009, continues to get plenty of airtime on WAKS, allowing for the recent decision to have considerable smile-inducing impact on the bulk of listeners.
“The reaction has been immediate,” Murphy continued. “Listeners thought it was a brilliant idea. It’s subtle, just enough to get the point across. Obviously, it’s totally tongue-in-cheek. I mean, we still say the name on the air. But, in the context of a hip-hop song, it sounds kinda cool hearing it flipped backwards.”
Since James’ return to Cleveland on December 2, the area has heard plenty of outside opinions on how they should proceed with their perceived lover scorn mentality. Thankfully, per Murphy, the station reports that their feedback has been wholly positive.
“So far no complaints from the ‘leave LeBron alone’ or ‘get on with your life’ crowd,” said Murphy.
Apparently, Brad Daugherty is more of a Q104-type of guy.