June 15, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Morgan Wallen backlash swells after singer used racist slur

Morgan Wallen, country music’s hottest recording artist, has been banned from the nation’s two largest radio networks and a TV network, pulled from music-streaming services and suspended by his record label after he was recorded shouting a racist slur outside his Nashville home after a night out with friends.

The 27-year-old singer, who courted controversy last year with his canceled and rescheduled “Saturday Night Live” appearances, was taped Sunday night by a neighbor after Wallen’s group made a lot of noise honking and hollering.

“Take care of this p— ass mother—,” he says in the video, published by TMZ, and then utters the N-word.

Wallen told the outlet that he wanted to apologize and to “do better.”

“I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever,” he said.

The backlash was sudden. Wallen’s label announced Wednesday via social media that it was taking a step back from the “7 Summers” singer, who was named the Country Music Assn.’s new artist of the year in 2019.

“In the wake of recent events, Big Loud Records has made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen’s recording contract indefinitely,” the company tweeted. “Republic Records fully supports Big Loud’s decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, Cumulus Media — the nation’s second-largest radio network, with more than 400 stations — removed Wallen’s music nationwide as of midnight Tuesday, according to Variety. That’s despite the singer’s newest effort, the 30-song “Dangerous: The Double Album,” topping the charts for weeks now.

“Team, unfortunately country music star Morgan Wallen was captured on video Sunday evening using a racial slur,” a staff memo reportedly said. “Effective immediately we request that all of Morgan Wallen’s music be removed from our playlists without exception. More to follow.”

The move was followed Wednesday by iHeartMedia, the largest radio network in the U.S., with 850-plus stations.

“In light of Morgan Wallen’s recent actions involving the use of a racial slur, we have made the decision to remove his music and content from our stations effective immediately,” an iHeartRadio spokesperson told Billboard.

CMT, the country music-focused TV network, said Wednesday that it was “in the process of removing” Wallen’s appearances from its platforms.

“We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion,” CMT tweeted.

SiriusXM and Pandora have pulled all Wallen content from their platforms, while Spotify and Apple Music have taken his songs off their playlists. As of Wednesday afternoon, his music was still available on his YouTube channel.

And some country music voices were leading the backlash.

“When I read comments saying ‘this is not who we are’ I laugh because this is exactly who country music is,” musician Mickey Guyton, who is Black, tweeted Wednesday. “I’ve witnessed it for 10 gd years. You guys should just read some of the vile comments hurled at me on a daily basis. It’s a cold hard truth to face but it is the truth.”

“My Church” singer Maren Morris tweeted in the same vein, saying Tuesday night: “It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t his first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless. We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”

Wallen is no stranger to controversy. In May, the former contestant on “The Voice” was arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after an incident of what he called “horseplay” at a honky-tonk in downtown Nashville.

Then came the “SNL” situation in October, when Wallen was disinvited from the show after he partied maskless in a packed Alabama bar following a college football game, thereby violating the show’s COVID-19 protocols.

Wallen was contrite about the “SNL” situation, saying in an October video, “I think I have some growing up to do.” He wound up performing on the sketch show Dec. 5 instead and even appeared in a sketch poking fun of his behavior.

Wallen’s publicists and reps for Cumulus Media and Republic Records, which releases Wallen’s music along with Big Loud Records, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. The singer has been silent on social media since Monday.