The 28-year-old also spoke about the steps he has since taken to make amends and also educate himself on the effects of using such racial slurs. During the interview, Wallen reiterated he was initially ignorant about how using the slur made Black people feel.
In February, the country musician incurred the wrath of a section of people after TMZ shared a video of him using the slur while he was talking with friends following a night out. In the video, Wallen is heard using the slur while talking to friends outside his home.
“Take care of this p****y a*s m*****f****r,” he is heard saying, adding, “Take care of this p***y a*s N****r.”
Explaining his use of the word, Wallen told Strahan he was “around some of my friends, and we just … we say dumb stuff together.” “And it was — in our minds, it’s playful … that sounds ignorant, but it — that’s really where it came from … and it’s wrong,” he said.
Wallen admitted that though he had used the racial slur in the past, it was not a frequent thing and he only used it when he was in the company of a “certain group of friends.”
Reflecting on the leaked video, Wallen said he was drunk when he uttered the racial slur and he “didn’t mean it any, in any derogatory manner at all.”
“It’s one of my best friends — he was, we were all clearly drunk — I was askin’ his girlfriend to take care of him because he was drunk and he was leavin,” he recalled, adding that he could not really justify his use of the word. “I think I was just ignorant about it,” he said. “I don’t think I sat down and was, like, ‘Hey, is this right or is this wrong?’”
In the wake of the backlash that ensued after the video was made public, Wallen’s record label and talent agency parted ways with him, GMA reported. He was also declared ineligible for nomination at some notable country music award events and a number of radio stations announced they were no longer going to play his music.
Wallen, who apologized for using the racial slur, said subsequent meetings with some Black industry players, as well as the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC), enlightened him about racial discrimination.
“I’ve heard some stories in the initial conversations that I had after that — just how some people are, you know, treated even still today, and I’m just, like, I haven’t seen that with my eyes — that pain or that insignificant feeling or whatever it is that it makes you feel,” he told Strahan.
The Whiskey Glasses singer also admitted he was unaware of the reason the use of the slur “makes Black people so upset” when Strahan asked if he had an idea about it. “I don’t know how to put myself in their shoes because I’m not,” he said. “But I do understand, especially when I say I’m using it playfully or whatever, ignorantly, I understand that that must sound, you know, like, ‘He doesn’t — he doesn’t understand.’”
And though Wallen’s record sales peaked after the video was released, the musician said the estimated amount that was made during that period was donated to a worthy cause. “Before this incident my album was already doing well,” Wallen said. “It was already being well-received by critics and by fans. Me and my team noticed that whenever this whole incident happened that there was a spike in my sales. So we tried to calculate what the number of — how much it actually spiked from this incident.”
He added: “We got to a number somewhere around $500,000, and we decided to donate that money to some organizations — BMAC being the first one.”