Wallen was seen in a video earlier this month yelling expletives, including the N-word. The incident caused Big Loud Records to suspend his recording contract “indefinitely,” major radio stations to pull his music, streaming services to remove his music from curated playlists, the Academy of Country Music to bar him from involvement and eligibility at this year’s awards show, his booking agent WME to drop him, and his peers in the music industry to speak out.
“Heartless” was released in Aug. 2019 through Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint on Columbia Records as part of the DJ’s debut country album, Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley, Chapter 1: Snake Oil and reached No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts; the album also featured tracks with Cam, Orville Peck, the Jonas Brothers, Young Thug, Blanco Brown and Lil Nas X.
TMZ posted video purporting to show Diplo spinning a portion of “Heartless” at a SB party, with several unmasked, not distanced fans up front seeming to sway and sing along to the track, which then faded into Kanye West’s “Power.” The footage sparked quite a bit of backlash on Twitter, where some commenters took Diplo to task for playing the song at the packed club event; a spokesperson for Diplo had not returned a request for further comment at press time.
Wallen released a five-minute apology video on Instagram on Wednesday announcing that he has met with Black leaders and that he’s been sober for nine days. “The video you saw was me on hour 72 of 72 of a bender, and that’s not something I’m proud of,” he says in the clip. “I accepted some invitations from some amazing Black organizations, some executives and leaders, to engage in some very real and honest conversations.” Admitting he was nervous to accept the invitations because of his hurtful behavior, he added, “They had every right to step on my neck … to not show me any grace, but they did the exact opposite. They offered me grace and also paired that with an offer to learn and grow. … That kindness really inspired me to dig deeper on how to do something about this.”
He closed the video by asking that those who have been defending him, “Please don’t. I was wrong. It’s on me to take ownership for this and I fully accept any penalties I’m facing. The time of my return is solely on me and the work I put in.”
See the tweets and video below.