Prior to bringing Wallen onstage, the Chicago MC introduced the country singer as being “genuine at heart” and made a reference to him being caught on video last year using the N-word. “Can’t nobody cancel s— without me saying it, you know what I’m saying?” Durk told the crowd.
Dressed in a denim vest with dark pants, Wallen addressed the crowd before jumping into the track with Durk. “What’s up, Nashville?” he said.
Watch a snippet of the country star’s surprise appearance here.
MLK Freedom Fest, which arrived ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday (Jan. 17), also featured performances by Moneybagg Yo, Rod Wave, Latto and others.
Durk addressed in early January whether he considers Wallen a racist following the N-word controversy. “Nah, he ain’t no racist, that’s my boy,” Durk told TMZ, noting that he and the country star had had a “long talk” behind closed doors and he had no qualms about collaborating with the singer who he insisted “was not canceled. He ain’t canceled, I talked to him. When I say you ain’t canceled, you ain’t canceled.”
The success of “Girls” came as Wallen’s bookings and radio play began to tick up in late 2021, just 10 months after his N-word incident was caught on tape, a situation Wallen discussed in July on Good Morning America with host Michael Strahan.
“I was around some of my friends, and we we say dumb stuff together,” Wallen told GMA. “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.”
The video resulted in Wallen’s music getting pulled from radio and streaming, as well as his suspension from his label and pulled invites to a number of major awards shows. Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album was named 2021’s year-end No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The set was released in January, debuted atop the weekly Billboard 200 chart dated Jan. 23, and spent 10 weeks atop the list in 2021.