Morgan Wallen says past racial slur was 'ignorant,' was intended as 'playful' in first interview after scandal

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Morgan Wallen is speaking out in his first interview since the country music star was caught on camera hurling the N-word in February.

The incident led to Wallen’s record label, Big Loud Records, suspending him and conglomerates like iHeartRadio pulling the 27-year-old’s music from their stations.

Speaking in a pre-taped interview on “Good Morning America” that aired Friday, host Michael Strahan asked Wallen how he feels about people who may think his interview is just another “performance.”

“I understand that I’m not ever going to make everyone happy. I can only come tell my truth and that’s all I know to do,” Wallen said.

Morgan Wallen’s first interview since his racial slur scandal aired on Friday on "Good Morning America."
(Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Going back to the day in February when TMZ released the video of Wallen using the N-word while speaking with friends in a driveway in Tennessee, Wallen admitted he had been “partying all weekend” with some “longtime friends.”

Wallen went on to say he and his friends “say dumb stuff together” and it isn’t a slur he uses frequently.

“No, I don’t think it just happened. I was around some of my friends and we just, we say dumb stuff together. In our minds it’s playful. It sounds ignorant but that’s really where it came from, and it’s wrong,” Wallen added. “We were all clearly drunk and I was asking his girlfriend to take care of him because he was drunk and he was leaving. I didn’t mean it in any derogatory manner at all.”

Strahan pressed Wallen why he would feel it was an “appropriate” word to ever use, to which the country crooner admitted he was “just ignorant about it.”

“I don’t think I ever sat down and thought, ‘Hey, is this right or wrong?’” he said.

Morgan Wallen has been barred from attending the Billboard Music Awards despite earning six nominations.

“I haven’t seen that with my eyes – that pain or that insignificant feeling or whatever it is that it makes you feel,” Wallen said.

Strahan said the word evokes anger and asked Wallen if he understands why it makes Black people so upset.

“I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes because I’m not, you know? But I do understand. When I say I’m using it playfully or ignorantly, I understand that must sound ‘he doesn’t understand,'” Wallen replied.

After the incident Wallen said he spoke to the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) and checked himself into a 30-day rehab to figure out “why I’m acting this way.”

Amid the scandal, Wallen’s sophomore album “Dangerous: The Double Album” topped the Billboard 200 chart for the fifth week. He said he and his team calculated around $500,000 profits as a result of the spike in sales and that money was donated to Black organizations, including BMAC. ABC News said BMAC did not respond to its request for confirmation.

Wallen was widely condemned by several country artists, including Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton, after the video surfaced. Asked by Strahan if he believes there is a race problem in country music, he replied, “I mean, it would seem that way, yeah. I haven’t really sat and thought about that.”

Fan-funded billboards supporting singer Morgan Wallen on Broadway on June 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. 
(Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

In April, the musician took to social media to issue a handwritten apology to fans and revealed he would be taking a break from performing this summer.

“I have felt a lot of love lately from so many people I haven’t gotten to know yet,” Wallen began, while thanking his fans who stood beside him. “I know my corner hasn’t been the most popular one to stand in recently, but many of you did anyway.”

Wallen maintained that he had “made some mistakes” in 2020 and called it a “tough year,” likely pointing to his public intoxication arrest in May and disorderly conduct charges in September.

The country star was also scratched as a performer on “Saturday Night Live” after he was spotted partying at a bar without practicing social distancing just days before his scheduled performance.

He went on to write that he always “strives to be better” and that his time away from the spotlight not only helped him identify the ways he wants to improve but also “reminded me that I am still very proud of who I am and the man I am becoming.”

In a statement released in early February, the ACM announced it had barred “Wallen’s potential involvement and eligibility for this year’s 56th Academy of Country Music Awards cycle.”

After the video of Wallen’s incident hit the internet in February, he told Fox News in a statement, “I’m embarrassed and sorry.”

“I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back,” he continued. “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.”

Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.

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