The Rolling Stones have dropped their 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” after it was labeled insensitive and racist.

The song has been called out for making references to slavery, sex and drugs despite its popularity.


When it was first released it reached No. 2 in the U.K. charts and became the second most popular song from the band. On Spotify, it has almost 170 million streams.

Critics have said the song has “some of the most stunningly crude and offensive lyrics that have ever been written” and it is “gross, sexist and stunningly offensive toward black women.”

The lyrics that have caused the backlash are:

“Ah, get on, brown sugar, how come you taste so good?/ Ah, got me craving the, the brown sugar just like a black girl should.”

Guitarist Keith Richards confirmed the song removal and confessed he was confused about the backlash it received over the years.

“I’m trying to figure out with the sisters quite where the beef is,” he told Los Angeles  Times, “Didn’t they understand this was a song about the horrors of slavery? But they’re trying to bury it.”

Lead singer Mick Jagger also told the paper, “We’ve played ‘Brown Sugar’ every night since 1970. So sometimes you think, ‘we’ll take that one out for now and see how it goes,’ we might put it back in.

Music producer Ian Brenman criticized the band for continuing to “play and profit” from the song, especially with the negative message it portrays.

He urged the Rolling Stones to “seize the moment” and stop profiting from the song as a step towards racial equality.

“They retire the song is a victory,” he told The Guardian, “But the band continues to play coy as to the reasons for their decision, rather than just making a frank admission of the inappropriateness of the lyrics as the reason why they have chosen to no longer play the song live is an opportunity for healing and leadership missed.”

The Rolling Stones U.S. tour is the first after two years and the first tour since former drummer Charlie Watts passed away in August.

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