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DaBaby and the work towards a more inclusive music industry: NPR

DaBaby performs live during Rolling Loud at Hard Rock Stadium on July 25 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Rich Fury / Getty Images

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Rich Fury / Getty Images

DaBaby and the work towards a more inclusive music industry: NPR

DaBaby performs live during Rolling Loud at Hard Rock Stadium on July 25 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Rich Fury / Getty Images

Despite multiple apologies, rapper DaBaby continues to face criticism – and cancellations – for the homophobic comments he made during the Rolling Loud festival in late July. He told the Miami audience during the performance: “… if you don’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, one of those deadly sexually transmitted diseases that will kill you in two or three weeks, turn on your cell phone in the air. “

Dua Lipa, who features the rapper in his hit song Levitating, was among those who quickly criticized him. Elton John and Madonna also lambasted DaBaby and denounced disinformation in her comments on HIV. Music festivals including Lollapalooza, The Governors Ball and Austin City Limits Music Festival canceled his appearances and he lost a sponsorship deal with clothing brand BooHoo.

DaBaby has grown into a critical and business superstar in recent years, reigning over a powerful following with millions of social media followers. It won the BET Awards and was nominated for the Grammys.

The quick fallout from his remarks could mean a change in attitude towards what the music industry will tolerate when it comes to the explicitly offensive and exclusive language of some of its biggest stars.

“I think there is definitely a new moment,” says Tricia Rose, professor at Brown University, who has written two books on hip hop.

DaBaby has already been accused of bad behavior

While Rose believes festivals are doing the right thing by removing DaBaby from their lists, she also sees more than a hint of hypocrisy in the actions of the organizers. She notes that the music industry has long tolerated and taken advantage of artists like DaBaby, who was accused of bad behavior prior to this incident.

At the same Rolling Loud festival, for example, he followed Megan Thee Stallion’s performance by bringing on stage rapper Tory Lanez, who Stallion says shot him in the foot last year.

“There are a lot of artists who are promoted by the industry, who are celebrated by the industry because of their extreme behavior, in quotes and without quotes. no way toned down, ”Rose said. “Then when they don’t know when and how they’re actually living in that identity, then there’s all this sort of, ‘We’re all for peace, love, and happiness. “”

Since the uproar, DaBaby has tried to prioritize peace and understanding in its efforts to counter the fallout. In his second apology, he writes: “Social media evolves so fast that people want to tear you down before you have a chance to grow, educate and learn from your mistakes.

Apologizing is one step; making amends is another

Kevin Powell, who has written extensively on hip hop and toxic masculinity in American culture, says DaBaby’s apology language is important.

“I believe in the culture of consulting, I don’t nullify the culture,” says Powell. “Do we just want to keep canceling people because of their racism, sexism and homophobia, transphobia? Or do we really want to educate people so that we become a more educated population so that it does not become a standardized thing? ”

But Powell hopes DaBaby will do more than just apologize for his behavior in order to protect his career.

“He has to be serious. No matter who you are, you have to be serious about redress. You have to become an advocate for women and girls. You have to become an advocate for homophobia and transphobia. You have to do amends by your It can’t just be an apology just because you’re trying to save your career, ”adds Powell.

The outcry underscores the extent to which cultural attitudes towards sexuality in pop music are changing. As of now, openly gay rapper Lil Nas X has two hit songs and was recently featured in The New York Times Magazine.

Powell and Tricia Rose think her success is a sign of progress, but they also say the work towards a more inclusive music industry is far from over.

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