DaBaby apologizes for ‘misinformed comments about HIV/AIDS’ after being dropped from music festivals
DaBaby apologized Monday afternoon after homophobic remarks he made onstage at Rolling Loud Miami resulted in his being dropped by Lollapalooza, Governors Ball and other music festivals.
“I want to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for the hurtful and triggering comments I made,” the 29-year-old rapper wrote on Instagram. “Again, I apologize for my misinformed comments about HIV/AIDS and I know education on this is important. Love to all. God bless.”
While performing last month at Rolling Loud, DaBaby directed homophobic and sexist comments toward crowd members in the LGBTQ community, as well as those with HIV/AIDS. He encouraged everyone to raise their cellphone lights on the condition that they weren’t gay men or affected by HIV/AIDS, inaccurately stating that the disease would “make you die in two to three weeks.”
The remarks drew criticism from prominent figures in the music industry over the course of the following week, including Dua Lipa, the pop singer who collaborated with DaBaby on a popular remix of her song “Levitating” and wrote on her Instagram story that she was “surprised and horrified” by what he said; Elton John, a prominent advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention who tweeted that such misinformation “fuels stigma and discrimination”; and Madonna, a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community who wrote on Instagram that she wanted “to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance.”
Questlove, the Roots drummer and “Summer of Soul” director who once said he would’ve wanted to see DaBaby at an updated Harlem Cultural Festival, said DaBaby’s words were “not cool at all.”
“Somebody Gotta say it: Homophobia/Transphobia/Xenophobia/Misogyny/Racism — this should go w/o saying is morally wrong,” Questlove wrote on Instagram.
The backlash to DaBaby’s remarks arrived amid widespread conversation on homophobia in hip-hop, most recently sparked by the cheeky music video for Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” which is premised on the artist receiving a five-year prison sentence for being gay. Lil Nas X has been outspoken about the homophobia he has faced since coming out two years ago — while his breakout hit, “Old Town Road,” reigned over the charts — and recently responded to criticism by tweeting, “you seem to only respect gay artists when the gay part is tucked away. you don’t like me because i embrace my sexuality instead of hiding it and never speaking on it for your comfort.”
Multiple music festivals dropped DaBaby from their lineups after the Rolling Loud incident, including Lollapalooza, which announced roughly 12 hours before DaBaby’s planned Sunday night set that the coveted 9 p.m. slot would be filled by rapper Young Thug instead. Organizers tweeted that “Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love,” a sentiment Governors Ball echoed Monday morning when it announced DaBaby would not be performing at the late September festival.
“We welcome and celebrate the diverse communities that make New York City the greatest city in the world,” Governors Ball organizers tweeted. “Thank you to the fans who continue to speak up for what is right. Along with you, we will continue to use our platform for good.”
Day N Vegas, a festival scheduled for November, announced Monday that DaBaby would be replaced in its lineup with Roddy Ricch, who featured on DaBaby’s Grammy-nominated hit “Rockstar.”
DaBaby initially pushed back against the response to his Rolling Loud comments, reportedly writing on his Instagram story that he didn’t know who Questlove was. He also addressed the controversy in the music video released Wednesday for his song “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give,” in which he holds up a sign reading “AIDS” about halfway through. The video ends on the words “don’t fight hate with hate” written across a black screen in rainbow lettering, with an additional statement below: “My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you.”
Alongside his apology Monday, DaBaby took aim at the online backlash.
“Social media moves so fast that people want to demolish you before you even have the opportunity to grow, educate, and learn from your mistakes,” he wrote. “As a man who has had to make his own way from very difficult circumstances, having people I know publicly working against me — knowing that what I needed was education on these topics and guidance — has been challenging.”
DaBaby also received criticism after Rolling Loud for having brought out Tory Lanez, the rapper charged last year with assaulting Megan Thee Stallion, who had just performed at the festival herself. In June, Megan expressed her disappointment with men who “support me in private and publicly do something different” after DaBaby reportedly retweeted a joke about Lanez shooting Megan.