Wallen speaks to ABC News about the incident
Morgan Wallen has addressed his racial slur controversy by giving ABC News the first interview since the February incident. In an interview that aired today (Fri, July 23rd) on GMA, Morgan opens up about the use of the word with host Michael Strahan, who is black.
“It just happened, you know. I was around some of my friends, and, you know, we say dumb stuff together,” Wallen explains to Strahan. “And it was — in our minds, it’s playful … that sounds ignorant, but that’s really where it came from, and it’s wrong.”
Wallen admits it wasn’t the first time he used the N-word, but it’s not as frequently as Strahan suggested.
“I wouldn’t say frequently, no. No, not frequently. It was just around this certain group of friends, I would say,” Wallen confirms. “It’s one of my best friends — he was, we were all clearly drunk — I was askin’ his girlfriend to take care of him because he was drunk and he was leavin,’ I didn’t mean it in any derogatory manner at all.”
Wallen says he’s aware of the word’s history, but isn’t sure what made him use it.
“I’m not sure. I think I was just ignorant about it. I don’t think I sat down and was, like, ‘Hey, is this right or is this wrong?'”
Wallen says the incident has made him more aware of the word’s derogatory usage.
“I’ve heard some some stories in the initial conversations that I had after [the video] just how some people are treated even still today, and I was just like, ‘I haven’t seen that with my eyes, that pain or that insignificant feeling or whatever it is that makes you feel,” he claims.
“I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes because I’m not [black], but I do understand — especially when I say I’m using it playfully or whatever — ignorantly — I understand must sound, you know, ‘He doesn’t understand.'”
Following the video, Wallen shares that he spent 30 days at a rehab facility in San Diego to recollect on his actions. He also says he and his team calculated around $500,000 of music sales were earned in the days following the incident, all of which was donated to black organizations, including Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC).
Wallen was blacklisted by the industry hours after TMZ released the video in early February. His label — Big Loud Records in partnership with Republic Records — “made the decision to suspend Morgan Wallen’s recording contract indefinitely” and swiftly removed his likeness from their website rosters. Most media outlets pulled his music from their playlists by midnight, and he was deemed ineligible by the major award organizations.
Despite the boycott, Wallen’s sophomore Dangerous: The Double Album broke nearly every record. His music surged by more than 500% and the album spent its first ten consecutive weeks atop of the Billboard 200 chart, breaking a 34 year old record. At least six of the ten chart-topping weeks were without the help of any promotion. The album is now in its 24th week at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Album Charts.