The American country music star Morgan Wallen is getting blowback for being caught on tape using a racial slur after a night out in Nashville, Tennessee.
A video published by the celebrity tabloid TMZ shows footage taken by Wallen’s neighbor of the country singer saying goodbye to his friends as he enters his driveway.
Wallen can be heard using the N-word while speaking to his friends as they go their separate ways.
According to TMZ, neighbors reported that Wallen, 27, and his friends were being loud when they arrived at his home, honking horns and talking loudly, prompting the neighbor to start recording the scene.
Within hours of TMZ publishing the video, Cumulus Media, one of the largest radio chains in the US, sent a directive to hundreds of radio stations instructing them to pull Wallen’s music off the air “without exception”. Two other major radio station chains, iHeartMedia and Entercom, have followed suit.
Wallen’s record label, Big Loud Records, released a statement late on Tuesday night saying that they had suspended Wallen’s contract “indefinitely”. The record company said that Republic Records, which distributes Wallen’s music, “fully supports Big Loud’s decision and agrees such behavior will not be tolerated”.
CMT, the American cable network dedicated to country music, said on Twitter on Wednesday morning that they were “in the process of removing [Wallen’s] appearances from all our platforms”.
“We do not tolerate or condone words and actions that are in direct opposition to our core values that celebrate diversity, equity & inclusion,” the network said in a statement.
The actions come just weeks after Wallen’s second album, Dangerous, broke records for country music, including receiving the largest number of streams in a single week by a country music artist, after it was released in early January.
Top country music stars have spoken out about Wallen’s behavior, with some saying that his use of a racial slur “does not represent country music”, as music artist Kelsea Ballerini wrote on Twitter, while others said it was unsurprising given the industry’s history of racism.
“When I read comments saying ‘this is not who we are’ I laugh because this is exactly who country music is,” wrote Mickey Guyton, a country music artist who is Black, on Twitter. “I’ve witnessed it for 10 [good] 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.”
Maren Morris, another country music artist, echoed that sentiment saying: “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,” Morris said 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.”
Wallen was previously arrested in Nashville for public intoxication and disorderly conduct in May and was criticized for going to a crowded, mask-less party in Alabama in October. Warren apologized for both incidents last year.
In a statement to TMZ, Wallen said: “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. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.”