At a maskless pool party in Tampa, Florida, last night, Diplo caught the attention of TMZ after he spun “Heartless,” his country-pop duet with singer Morgan Wallen.
The performance came mere days after Wallen was caught on camera drunkenly spewing the n-word, the latest controversial act in what has become a tiresome cycle of lewd behavior from the singer.
Wallen’s career briefly hit a snag as a result of this particular incident. He was not only suspended from his label, but his music had been removed from multiple radio outlets.
Diplo, who has often been accused of grooming and abusing underage women of color, was clearly taking his stand on this issue, and the sentiment was similarly shared by Wallen’s sister. “Cancel culture is the worst thing that has come out of our digital world,” she wrote on Instagram. “It leaves no room for forgiveness and growth, in turn, leaving no opportunity for individuals who have made mistakes to learn from them.”
But is it possible that Morgan Wallen is just a scumbag? He was arrested back in May for public intoxication and disorderly conduct after an incident at Kid Rock’s Nashville honky-tonk (a venue which, a month later, would be temporarily shuttered due to violating the state’s COVID-19 protocols).
Then, in October of the same year, Wallen was booted from an SNL slot after videos circulated of the singer swapping spit with multiple women in a crowded Alabama bar. In all three instances, Wallen apologized and promised that he would do better, with the latest apology no different from the others. “Wallen should be more than just scared, all signs point to him being exiled,” wrote The Rolling Stone.
Morgan Wallen Alabama Bar
But this morning, it was revealed that Wallen’s use of a violent, racist epithet seemed to give his career a boost. Billboard reported that, while the singer’s radio play dipped by over 70% on February 3rd, sales of his music increased by 339%. Rolling Stone also reported that his album sales jumped 1,221% between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Contemporary country music is indeed no stranger to racial scandals. By now, everyone is aware of Brad Paisley’s colorblind excuse for white privilege in his 2013 song “Accidental Racist.” Paisley’s intention was pure, said country fans, and they chalked up lyrics like, “It ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin,” to a simple fumble.
But then came 2017’s Charlottesville Riot, and country stars and fans everywhere offered nothing but radio silence. Then, in 2019, Country music fans were furious when a black Georgia teen tried to push their genre forward with “Old Town Road.” They even boycotted Wrangler jeans for collaborating with Lil Nas X.
But Wallen’s direct financial benefit from using a racial slur shows that the genre’s tumultuous relationship with race has hit a disgusting new low point.
“It actually IS representative of our town because this isn’t [Wallen’s] first ‘scuffle’ and he just demolished a huge streaming record last month regardless,” wrote country singer Maren Morris on Twitter. “We all know it wasn’t his first time using that word. We keep them rich and protected at all costs with no recourse.”
It seems that country fans, Diplo included, are entirely aware of the poison that idiots like Morgan Wallen have long been spewing. The difference is that in post-Trump America, they can afford to laugh, stream, and simply not care anymore.