DaBaby, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, delivered these remarks after bringing out Tory Lanez, the rapper charged last year with assaulting Megan Thee Stallion, who had just performed at the festival herself. Last month, 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.
The Rolling Loud incidents drew criticism amid widespread conversation on homophobia in the music industry, particularly in hip-hop. Lil Nas X — who came out as gay two years ago while his country-rap breakout hit, “Old Town Road,” reigned over the Billboard Hot 100 chart — found himself at the center of attention last week after releasing the tongue-in-cheek music video for his latest single, “Industry Baby,” premised on him receiving a prison sentence for being gay.
Lil Nas X has spoken openly about facing homophobia as a result of his work, and did so again after the new video — which includes a prison shower dance scene featuring censored male nudity — sparked some backlash. He responded to a critical tweet by writing: “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.”
On Monday, just days after the “Industry Baby” video was released, DaBaby trended on social media alongside rebukes of his behavior at Rolling Loud. He attempted to defend himself that day in an Instagram Live, during which he made additional homophobic statements. On Tuesday, he tweeted that those with HIV/AIDS had “the right to be upset,” and said to “the LGBT community … y’all business is y’all business.”
Other artists in the music industry spoke out against DaBaby’s onstage comments, including pop singer Dua Lipa, with whom he collaborated last year on a remix of her popular song “Levitating.” She wrote on her Instagram story Tuesday that she was “surprised and horrified” by what he said.
“I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100% with the LGBTQ community,” she continued. “We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”
Elton John, a prominent advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, tweeted Wednesday that the misinformation spread “fuels stigma and discrimination and is the opposite of what our world needs to fight the AIDS epidemic.” The singer also posted an infographic from the Elton John AIDS Foundation sharing the same sentiment, alongside a thread of scientifically accurate information.
“In America, a gay black man has a 50% lifetime chance of contracting HIV,” he wrote. “Stigma and shame around HIV and homosexuality is a huge driver of this vulnerability.”
Madonna, a longtime ally of the LGBTQ community, shared a video of DaBaby’s Rolling Loud comments on Instagram Thursday and debunked them in the caption. She noted the decades of research and resulting treatments allowing people to live with AIDS, adding: “I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance, No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore. Thank God.”
“People like you are the reason we are still living in a world divided by fear,” she wrote. “All Human beings should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or religious beliefs. AMEN.”
DaBaby rose to mainstream fame over the past couple years, achieving major chart success with his Roddy Ricch-featuring single “Rockstar,” which spent seven nonconsecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. He has amassed six Grammy nominations.
Questlove, the Roots drummer who recently directed the music documentary “Summer of Soul,” about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, shared a list on Instagram of artists he would have hypothetically liked to see at an updated version of the festival. DaBaby’s name appears crossed out. In the caption, Questlove wrote that while he has hesitated to speak out against other public figures in the past — especially those he doesn’t know personally — what DaBaby said “was not cool at all.”
“Somebody Gotta say it: Homophobia/Transphobia/Xenophobia/Misogyny/Racism——this should go w/o saying is morally wrong,” Questlove wrote, adding later, “Huey Newton wisely stated in the early 70s that we as a people should NEVER go so low in life (with what we been through) that we start oppressing/terrorizing the next man in the way we been terrorized for centuries.”
DaBaby’s name has been scrapped from a real music festival lineup as well. He is no longer slated to perform at the Parklife festival in Manchester, England, though his representative told The Washington Post that he pulled out of the festival more than six weeks ago due to covid-19 restrictions.
The rapper didn’t stop at responding to the backlash on social media, going so far as to incorporate it into a music video released Wednesday for his song “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give.” Halfway through, he holds up a sign reading “AIDS.” 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.”