Rapper Lil Durk recently invited Morgan Wallen to join him on stage for a performance, months after the country singer was canceled due to a racist gossip scandal.
Lil Durk, a 29-year-old rapper whose real name is Durk Derrick Banks, performed at the Martin Luther King Freedom Fest in Nashville, Tennessee, on Saturday, when he described Wallen, 28, as “real at heart.”
Seconds later, he welcomed Wallen to the stage and declared to the audience, “Can no one cancel s — without me saying it.”
Wallen could be seen greeting Durk on stage with a handshake. “What is Nashville ?!” Wallen shouted to the audience.
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The two artists performed their 2021 song “Broadway Girls.” The audience could be heard cheering in a video shared on Twitter of WGCI 107.5.
Wallen’s return to the scene follows a year of controversy for the country singer. He made headlines in February last year after a video surfaced of him using the N-word.
The public backlash was rapid online and in the country music industry. Although he was nominated for several Academy of Country Music Awards, Wallen was not included in the ceremony in any way. He was also dropped by his record label, and his music was banned from iHeartRadio.
Wallen opened up about the video and his choice to use a racial hassle months after the video surfaced in an interview with Michael Strahan.
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“I was with some of my friends and we just say stupid things together. In our minds it’s playful. It sounds ignorant, but it’s really where it came from and it’s wrong.” said Wallen. “We were all clearly drunk and I asked his boyfriend to take care of him because he was drunk and he left. I did not mean it in any derogatory way at all.”
Despite the backlash, Wallen’s music remains successful. He recently announced its 2022 tour dates.
Just a few days ago Grand Ole Opry came under fire to welcome Wallen to the most historic stage of country music. He performed unannounced on Opry, which has aired for almost 100 years, to sing with country artist ERNEST.
Performing, including Yola, Allison Russell, Rissi Palmer, Noelle Scaggs from Fitz and the Tantrums, Joy Oladokun, Chely Wright and Grammy-winners, Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell, weighed in on how Opry’s decision could have worrying consequences for colored artists in country music.
“Morgan Wallen’s mindless redemption tour is nailed in the coffin for me to realize these systems, and this city is not really something for us,” wrote Oladokun.
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“It’s the idea of a young black artist walking into that place and wondering if ANYONE is on their side,” wrote Isbell. “What many of us consider to be a magnificent honor can be daunting for some.”
After Wallen’s performance, Holly G wrote a letter asks for an explanation of how Opry felt Wallen met his standards.
“They have found that they can invite a few black artists up on stage and give them their debut, and that will quiet or reassure people a little bit,” she told the Associated Press. “But if you look at the structural structure of the institution, nothing has changed. They have two black members throughout the history of the institution.”
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A publicist for Opry did not return a request for comment from the AP, and Holly G said she had not received a response to her letter from last Tuesday either.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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