Morgan Wallen’s Conundrum – The New York Times

It was a terrible performance by someone ill-equipped to explain his baddies, to say nothing of his motives, to say nothing of the centuries-long historical struggles. around the race that Wallen had carved himself into. He was simply a lightbulb trying to blink, longing for the room to light up.

When Strahan asked Wallen if country music was racially problematic, all Wallen could do was shrug: “Sounds like it, yeah. I haven’t really sat down and thought about it yet.” It’s a deadly honest answer from a star who has likely not previously considered the plight of Nashville’s Black performers, or perhaps Black people in general.

His use of mumbling echoes the callousness and thoughtlessness in which many white Americans toy with signs of Black culture without any sense of their history. It’s sparkling and, in Wallen’s description of his use of it with friends, an act that lends a sense of comfort to a private space.

The number of white pop stars revealed to have used that symbol is staggering, simply because it’s not zero. In addition to Wallen, there are at least three: Eminem and Justin Bieber, both of whom have been spotted about recordings from their youth that came out when they were famous. And then there’s John Mayer, possibly the best example, who said it in 2010’s Playboy interview. Each faced condemnation, but the harm to their careers was short-lived, especially surprising because all three worked within traditional Black idioms. But while Wallen has demonstrated his love of hip-hop, and has sometimes forayed himself into rap, he rarely nods directly to contemporary Black music in his songs, and himself. country removed much of Black’s background in the art form from its historicization.

Before the January incident, Wallen had generally avoided presenting his politics in public ways, unlike some of his peers. In 2020, he was banned from performing on “Saturday Night Live” for violating its Covid-19 protocols. (His appearance has been rescheduled.) In November 2020, in response to the public celebration of Joe Biden’s election, he Written on Instagram saying, “If we could party in the street without ‘socializing’ we could book shows now.” Late last year on audio files Hosted by collaborator Ernest, he and the host poked fun at President Biden’s behavior.

But Wallen’s album sales spiked shortly after the video of the incident became widely publicized and could make him emerge as an article about culture war. Listeners leaned toward Wallen’s music as a sort of protest against the way he was treated by the country music industry. (Wallen said he’s donated $500,000 to Black charities, the amount he estimates he made from a spike in sales; how much money has gone to those organizations have been challenged.) Morgan Wallen’s Conundrum – The New York Times

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