Rolling Loud Miami 2021's final day on July 25 was packed with highly anticipated performances from Megan Thee Stallion, Post Malone, and many others, but it was DaBaby's set that immediately dominated headlines and for days after.
DaBaby, who took the Ciroc Stage right after Meg, surprised attendees by bringing out Tory Lanez. The year prior, the "Savage" singer had accused Lanez of shooting her in the foot. But the "Rockstar" rapper didn't stop there, and what came next fueled criticism: In clips from the livestreamed performance, DaBaby made homophobic and misogynistic comments.
"If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up," he told attendees. "Ladies, if your p---- smell like water, put your cellphone lighter up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d--- in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up."
Read on to see how things unfolded after his remarks.
The day after DaBaby's performance, actor and rapper T.I. shared a nearly five and a half minute video in which he defended his fellow artist, while also sharing his respect for openly gay artists such as Lil Nas X and Frank Ocean.
"If you gonna have the Lil Nas X video and him living his truth, you gonna d--- sure have people like DaBaby who gonna speak their truth," he said. "Ain't nothing wrong with none of it, it ain't got to be no hate — it's all honesty. Everybody living in their truth."
In videos posted to his Instagram Stories July 26, DaBaby stood by the comments he made during his Rolling Loud set. Referring to himself as the "best live performer," he said that his words were nothing more than a "call to action," and that those who didn't see his show in person -- though it was livestreamed -- should "shut the f--- up."
But that wasn't all. "My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain't no nasty gay n---as. See what I'm saying? They ain't no junkies in the street. The hell you talking about, n---as? Then I said if you ain't sucking d--- in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up. You know what my gay fans did? Put that motherf---ing light up, n---a, 'cause my gay fans ain't going for that. They got class. They ain't sucking no d--- in no parking lot."
Dua Lipa's Fans Speak Up
Fans of the "Don't Start Now" singer urged her to remove DaBaby from one of her remixes of her hit song "Levitating."
"I need Dua to IMMEDIATELY remove Dababy remix of Levitating from streaming services and give us a Megan remix instead," one fan tweeted. "It's what we deserve!"
Dua Lipa Is 'Horrified'
Following tweets from her fans urging her to remove DaBaby from "Levitating," the three-time Grammy winner issued a statement via social media regarding DaBaby's Rolling Loud comments.
"I'm surprised and horrified at DaBaby's comments. I really don't recognize this as the person I worked with," she wrote on Instagram Stories July 26. "I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100% with the LGTBQ community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS."
DaBaby Walks Back His Comments
The rapper took to Twitter July 27 to apologize for some of what he said at Rolling Loud. "Anybody who done ever been affected by AIDS/HIV y'all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies."
But he wasn't all apologies. In another tweet, he insisted that people who weren't in attendance got things twisted. "I told you y'all digested that wrong ... but I ain't gone lie I'm impressed."
Demi Lovato Speaks Out
The singer-songwriter shared a series of Instagram images on July 27, starting with the photo of a bare chest featuring a message in red that reads "HIV is not a gay disease."
BoohooMAN Cuts Ties
Fashion brand boohooMAN announced on July 28 that it was ending its collaboration with the rapper. The company had partnered with DaBaby on a 100-piece summer collection that launched June 30.
"BoohooMAN condemn the use of homophobic language and confirm we will no longer be working with DaBaby," the fashion brand shared in a Twitter statement. "Diversity and inclusion are part of the boohoo Groups DNA and we pride ourselves on representing the diverse customers we serve across the globe. We stand by and support the LGBTQ+ community, and do not tolerate hate speech or discrimination in any form."
Elton John Debunks DaBaby's Misinformation
"We've been shocked to read about the HIV misinformation and homophobic statements made at a recent DaBaby show," iconic performer John wrote on social media July 28. "This fuels stigma and discrimination and is the opposite of what our world needs to fight the AIDS epidemic."
The "I'm Still Standing" singer went on to lay out important facts about HIV/AIDS. He concluded: "HIV misinformation and homophobia have no place in the music industry. We must break down the stigma around HIV and not spread it. As musicians, it's our job to bring people together."
GLAAD Urges DaBaby to Do Better
"The rhetoric that DaBaby used is inaccurate, hurtful, and harmful to the LGBTQ community and the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV," DaShawn Usher, GLAAD's associate director of communities of color, said in lengthy a statement to Billboard July 28. "While DaBaby has made haphazard attempts to ‘apologize,’ actions need to be taken for full accountability and changes to do better in the future."
DaBaby Drops 'Giving What It's Supposed to Give' Video
The rapper again addressed his homophobic comments, this time in a new music video released the afternoon of July 28.
In the new video, DaBaby holds up a sign that says "AIDS" as he raps the lyric "B----, we like AIDS, I'm on your a--, we on your a--, bi---, we won't go away." The visual ends with a rainbow-colored message that says "Don't Fight Hate With Hate," as well as "My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you."
In the Instagram caption announcing the video, the rapper noted that he tried to explain himself and apologize, but that "people refuse to understand your logic ... and do everything they can to take money out of your pockets and food out your kids mouth." He later concluded, "So you then go against the grain in the opposite direction of every scared person around you & stay true to yourself & DROP DAT BITCH & show the world once again that you CANT BE F---ED WIT? I have. I just did."
Boosie Badazz Steps Up for DaBaby
The "Nasty, Nasty" rapper made his allegiances clear during an Instagram Live on July 28. In his message, he defended DaBaby's homophobic comments, used slurs when discussing Lil Nas X, calling the "Old Town Road" artist "the most disrespectful motherf---er in the world," and threatening to "beat his a--."
"You don't f--- with him like you f--- with DaBaby," Boosie said. "Be even sided, man. Be even sided."
The "Industry Baby" rapper responded, "a n---a saying he will 'beat my f----t ass' is not what we what we meant by freedom of speech."
Questlove Condemns DaBaby's Comments
Late in the day on July 28, The Roots' co-founder made his thoughts on the subject clear in a lengthy Instagram post that featured the image of DaBaby's name crossed out.
"Right is right & his actions are wrong," he insisted. "Somebody Gotta say it: Homophobia/Transphobia/Xenophobia/Misogyny/Racism--this should go w/o saying is morally wrong."
More to Say
T.I. had more to say in defense of DaBaby in an Instagram Live video. "I think you guys have to understand that onstage, that's not the place that rappers go to be sensitive and soothe everybody's feelings," he said. "It's a place to go to have a good time."
He added, "That s--- is like, now you bullying."
Madonna's Message to DaBaby
Madge shared her frustration with the rapper via an Instagram post on July 29. "I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance," she said. "No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore."
She also wrote in her post, "People like you are the reason we are still living in a world divided by fear."
DaBaby Responds to Questlove
Questlove who? That was the gist of DaBaby's response on Instagram Stories late in the evening of July 29 after The Roots co-founder criticized his homophobic comments.
Twitter was quick to point out to DaBaby that the rapper should not only recognize Questlove for his immense contributions to hip-hop, but because the two had performed together on 'The Tonight Show' in 2019.
Lollapalooza Drops DaBaby
One week after DaBaby made his homophobic comments at Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza dropped him from its lineup hours ahead of his scheduled performance on Aug. 1.
"Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love," the festival said in a statement. "With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight."
Governors Ball Drops DaBaby
The day after Lollapalooza dropped DaBaby from its lineup, NYC's Governors Ball Music Festival followed suit. "Founders Entertainment does not and will not tolerate hate or discrimination of any kind," the Gov Ball Twitter account shared on Monday (Aug. 2) with a revamped lineup that no longer included the rapper.
Not long after, Las Vegas festival Day N Vegas also dropped DaBaby from its lineup.
DaBaby Issues Formal Apology
On the afternoon of Aug. 2, less than 36 hours after three festivals dropped him from their lineups, DaBaby issued a more formal apology on his Instagram. "I want to apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for the hurtful and triggering comments I made. Again, I apologize for my misinformed comments about HIV/AIDS and I know education on this is important. Love to all. God bless."
A Call for Education
Eleven leading organizations in HIV/AIDS education shared an open letter with DaBaby, calling for a private meeting to address his miseducation.
"DaBaby and all Americans must learn the truth about HIV and work towards defeating the stigma that keeps people from HIV prevention and life-saving treatment that allows them to live long and healthy lives, and not transmit HIV," the letter read. "Together with leaders in the HIV field, we are asking for a meeting with DaBaby to educate and enlighten him, and all Americans, about the facts."
Radio Removes "Levitating" Remix
In the days after DaBaby's homophobic remarks, radio programmers who play Dua Lipa's music have stripped the rapper from the air, shifting to her solo version.
"We pulled everything," Will Calder, branding and programming director for Cox Media Group-owned Florida pop stations Hot 101.5 in Tampa and Power 95.3 in Orlando, told Billboard. "I couldn't allow that stuff to air on my radio stations and be justified with the support of the community."
Don't Cancel — Educate
Miley Cyrus urged fans to help educate instead of adding to cancel culture in an Aug. 4 Instagram message.
"It's easier to cancel someone than to find forgiveness and compassion in ourselves or take the time to change hearts and minds," she wrote, also tagging the rapper and inviting him to talk to her. "There's no more room for division if we want to keep seeing progress! Knowledge is power!"
Over the weekend of Aug. 7-8, fans noticed that DaBaby's official apology, in which he addressed his homophobic Rolling Loud remarks, had been removed from his Instagram account.
It is unclear why the post was removed; Billboard reached out to his team for comment.
Nick Cannon shared his support for DaBaby during an interview with The Breakfast Club's Charlamagne Tha God Aug. 9.
"I challenge all these people who actually want to cancel somebody, and even specifically in DaBaby's situation, let's use this as an opportunity for education," he shared. Later, he added, "This is a moment where we should all gather around DaBaby and embrace him because if we can do that, watch how many mentalities will change in the hip-hop community."
50 Cent Believes in DaBaby
50 Cent shared in an interview that he believes DaBaby's career would survive the controversy surrounding his homophobic comments.
"As long as he keeps his consistency with the music. Remember they canceled Chris Brown, five, six times?" he told E!'s Nightly Pop. The rapper also defended DaBaby, saying that as the "Rockstar" rapper's popularity has exploded, no one gave him appropriate media training. "There's nobody that tells you, Now you're being held to these standards that are mainstream standards that you can’t say things, you can't do these different things.'"
Back on Stage
DaBaby performed at Hot 97 Summer Jam 2021 at Met Life Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J., where he again addressed his homophobic comments. He thanked the New York radio station for sticking their "neck out on the line" for him after the controversy instead of dismissing him, as many other festivals did by dropping him from their lineups.
He later told the crowd, "Other than the people that, you know, was truly offended, I feel like the rest of y’all motherf---ers being cry babies."
The rapper dropped a new freestyle over BIA's "Whole Lotta Money." In the rhyme, DaBaby -- who was dropped from several festivals after his homophobic and misinformed comments, refers to himself as a "canceled a--" and raps about how he "can afford to quit doin' this s--- right now."
DaBaby joined Kanye West and Marilyn Manson on stage at West's 'Donda' listening event in Chicago on Aug. 26. Despite the controversy over DaBaby's homophobic comments, West invited DaBaby to appear alongside him at the event.
The "Rockstar" rapper and Manson are also featured on the 'Donda' track "Jail pt. 2," which was originally withheld when the album dropped early Aug. 29.
GLAAD announced on Aug. 31 that the rapper had sat down with the organization and nine other groups to learn more about HIV and AIDS.
They said in a joint statement that DaBaby "apologized for the inaccurate and hurtful comments he made about people living with HIV, and received our personal stories and the truth about HIV and its impact on Black and LGBTQ communities with deep respect."