- Grammy-nominated rapper DaBaby has received backlash for making homophobic comments.
- He was condemned by stars like Dua Lipa and dropped from high-profile festival lineups.
- He’s also been criticized for associating with Tory Lanez, who allegedly shot Megan Thee Stallion.
DaBaby has sparked a string of controversies this year, which eventually escalated to condemnation from fellow stars, brands, and festivals.
The 29-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, has been enjoying a much brighter spotlight since his first No. 1 hit, “Rockstar,” was crowned 2020’s song of the summer and nominated for record of the year at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
Here’s a complete timeline of the criticism he’s faced.
January 2021: DaBaby was criticized online for collaborating with Tory Lanez
On January 5, Tory Lanez teased a forthcoming collaboration with DaBaby.
Megan was shot in both of her feet in July 2020 and underwent surgery to remove the bullets. One month later, she publicly named Lanez as her assailant and has since described the assault as “the worst experience” of her life.
Lanez has denied that he shot Megan and pleaded not guilty in November.
Many DaBaby fans criticized his decision to collaborate with Lanez, citing the former’s friendship with Megan. The two rappers have collaborated twice: DaBaby was featured on Megan’s 2019 song “Cash S—“ and 2020 single “Cry Baby.”
At the time, Megan defended DaBaby from the backlash. She claimed his feature was “old” and “not cleared” in response to a fan’s tweet, implying that Lanez was planning to use DaBaby’s vocals without permission.
June 2021: Megan Thee Stallion seemed to call out DaBaby for supporting Lanez
On June 14, Lanez finally released the collaboration he promised, titled “Skat.” DaBaby is heavily featured in the song and costars in the music video.
Shortly after, fans noticed that DaBaby’s official account on Twitter had reshared a tweet that made light of her assault: “I guess @DaBabyDaBaby and @torylanez cool now [because] [they] both shot somebody and don’t have to do no jail time.”
On June 19, Megan appeared to address the situation with her own tweet, which was widely taken as a critique of DaBaby’s behavior.
“support me in private and publicly do something different…these industry men are very strange,” she wrote. “This situation ain’t no damn ‘beef’ and I really wish people would stop down playing it like it’s some internet s— for likes and retweets.”
DaBaby, however, insisted the retweet was a mistake or some kind of glitch. It was subsequently removed from his page.
He also responded directly to Megan’s tweet, claiming he has “no bad energy” for her.
“You done let these folks get the best of you,” he wrote. “Stand on what you stand on without feeling like I’m against ya. Stay focused my g.”
July 25, 2021: DaBaby brought Lanez onstage during his set at Rolling Loud — directly after Megan performed
DaBaby took the stage on Sunday at Miami’s Rolling Loud festival. His set began directly after Megan’s ended on the same stage.
During his performance, DaBaby brought out Lanez to perform “Skat.”
Fans immediately expressed disappointment and discomfort with DaBaby online: “This guy was never Megan’s friend,” reads one tweet with over 50,000 likes.
Variety called the move “clearly provocative,” adding that DaBaby’s previous alignment with Megan now seems “disingenuous.”
He also made offensive remarks about HIV/AIDS-positive people and gay men during his performance
Backlash to DaBaby’s performance began building after a video was circulated online, which showed the rapper making homophobic comments onstage.
“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 cell phone lighter up,” he said. “Fellas, if you ain’t sucking d— in the parking lot, put your cell phone lighter up.”
As explained in a widely shared Instagram post by Matt Bernstein, DaBaby’s comments “center around the trope that queer men are promiscuous, dirty, and disease-ridden.”
Additionally, thanks to advancements in medicine, HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence as DaBaby suggested.
As Insider’s Ayomikun Adekaiyero wrote, HIV-positive people who take their antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed can live well into their 80s. The medication also suppresses a person’s viral load to undetectable levels, at which point it’s effectively impossible to pass the virus on to someone else.
July 26: DaBaby’s homophobic comments received backlash from fans and celebrities, including Jonathan Van Ness
“This stigma of HIV/AIDS is what is killing folks & it’s spread by this kind of misinformation that then people go believe,” Van Ness wrote.
However, fellow rapper T.I. — who is currently under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department following multiple allegations of sexual assault — defended DaBaby in a video on Instagram. He compared the rapper’s comments to Lil Nas X “living his truth” as a proud gay man.
“If homosexuals have more rights than heterosexual people, just say that,” he said. “Is that the law?”
“If you gonna have the Lil Nas X video and him living his truth, you gonna damn sure have people like DaBaby who gonna speak their truth,” T.I. 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.”
However, T.I. made a point to note that Lil Nas X’s work “isn’t for him.”
“The Lil Nas X s—, the performances, the videos — I got a lot of respect for bro, because, like I said, he had the courage to live his truth, but that s— ain’t for me,” he said. “I can’t look at it.”
T.I.’s comments were then slammed by activist and model Amber Rose, who said the homophobic tone of his video “perpetuates hate and violence.”
July 27: Dua Lipa, who collaborated with DaBaby on a remix of ‘Levitating,’ said she was ‘horrified’ by his comments
“I really don’t recognize this as the person I worked with,” she wrote. “I know my fans know where my heart lies and I stand 100% with the LGBTQ community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”
Other artists also rallied around Lipa, who’d become a focus of the controversy’s coverage due to the success of their collaboration.
“How did y’all manage to write a whole ass article blaming Dua for this s—? She had nothing to do with what came out of his mouth?” Jauregui tweeted. “Anyway, stream original (superior) version of [Levitating].”
The same day, DaBaby doubled down in a 19-part video on his Instagram story
In a selfie video filmed from his bed, DaBaby described his comments as “a call to action” and told anyone who wasn’t at the festival to “shut the f— up.”
“What me and my fans do at the live show, it don’t concern all you n—-s on the internet or you bitter b—–s on the internet. It’s not y’all’s business,” he said.
“All the lights went up, gay or straight. You wanna know why? ‘Cause even my gay fans don’t got f—ing AIDS,” he continued. “They don’t got AIDS. My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain’t no nasty gay n—-s. See what I’m saying? They ain’t no junkies.”
“They ain’t sucking no d— in no parking lot. N—-, you gotta get a room. A good one, five-star hotel,” he added. “Even my gay fans got standards.”
The rapper continued to receive backlash, since his new comments equated having HIV/AIDS with being “nasty.” He also implied that being discrete with love or lust makes a queer person more valid. Additionally, his “five-star hotel” comment could be seen as classist; the implication is that wealthy people, or those with “class,” don’t get HIV/AIDs.
In a subsequent tweet, DaBaby called his comments ‘insensitive,’ but also said he ‘ain’t trippin’
—DaBaby (@DaBabyDaBaby) July 27, 2021
“Anybody who done ever been effected [sic] 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,” he wrote.
DaBaby added: “But the LGBT community… I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. y’all business is y’all business.”
His tweet did not appear to assuage the masses, however.
“Yeah, we’ve got the right to be upset,” USA Today columnist Michael J. Stern wrote. “We’ve also got the right to refuse to accept an apology that was prompted by public outcry and not a genuine understanding of, and remorse for, the horrific things you said.”
July 28: Fashion brand BoohooMan announced it would no longer work with DaBaby
BoohooMan, a menswear branch of the clothing brand Boohoo, announced on social media that it would cut professional ties with DaBaby.
“Diversity and inclusion are part of the boohoo Groups DNA and we pride ourselves on representing the diverse customers we serve across the globe,” the England-based retailer said. “We stand by and support the LGBTQ+ community, and do not tolerate any hate speech or discrimination in any form.”
The announcement came less than one month after DaBaby and BoohooMan released a joint summer collection.
He was also criticized by prominent LGBTQ artists Demi Lovato and Elton John
Demi Lovato reshared Bernstein’s informative Instagram post, which aims to explain that “HIV is not a ‘gay disease.'”
The post also criticizes T.I.’s comments and argues for more queer history taught in schools.
Elton John also condemned DaBaby’s comments and “HIV misinformation” more largely.
—Elton John (@eltonofficial) July 28, 2021
The “Rocket Man” singer has dedicated much of his career to providing support for people affected by HIV, having established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992.
“Homophobic and HIV mistruths have no place in our society and industry and as musicians, we must spread compassion and love for the most marginalized people in our communities,” John said in a Twitter thread. “A musician’s job is to bring people together.”
Meanwhile, Lanez defended his stage mate on Twitter.
“When did rap get so politically correct that u can’t speak your mind and have an opinion,” he wrote. “Why the f— was rap started ?… for us to speak our mind …. rappers will not always be right, and u don’t have to agree. But they have a right to speak their mind.”
That night, DaBaby dropped a new song, which includes the lyric ‘We like AIDS, I’m on your ass / We on your ass, we won’t go away’
DaBaby’s new single, “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give,” was accompanied by a music video directed by the rapper himself.
In the video, DaBaby holds up a sign that says “AIDS” while he’s being poked and bothered by two men. Then, he shoots them.
It ends with a title card that reads, in rainbow lettering, “Don’t fight hate with hate,” followed by, “My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you.”
His wording was widely mocked online. As culture writer Hunter Harris noted, “That sentence implies that he knows he is being hateful!”
While promoting the video on Instagram, DaBaby said it was filmed the day before his performance at Rolling Loud.
“It never [ceases] to amaze me the way God put me in situations I’m already equipped to handle,” he wrote.
July 29: DaBaby was removed from the 2021 Parklife lineup, but a representative said he pulled out voluntarily
However, a representative for DaBaby told the website this wasn’t related to the ongoing backlash. They claimed he pulled out of the festival “months ago” due to ongoing COVID-19 complications.
July 30: Celebrities continued to condemn DaBaby, including Madonna and Questlove, but the rapper laughed it off
Madonna posted an open letter to DaBaby on Instagram, calling his onstage speech “hateful” and imploring others to “know your facts.”
“I want to put my cellphone lighter up and pray for your ignorance,” she wrote. “No one dies of AIDS in 2 or 3 weeks anymore. Thank God.”
Madonna also criticized DaBaby’s less-publicized “sexist” remark, which he also said onstage at Rolling Loud: “Ladies, if your p—- smell like water, put your cellphone light up.”
The “Material Girl” singer said these comments “only encourage more discrimination against women who fight daily against the oppression of living under the constraints of the Male Gaze,” adding, “People like you are the reason we are still living in a world divided by fear. ”
Questlove also chimed in, calling DaBaby’s behavior “not cool at all” on Instagram.
The iconic drummer shared a “dream list” of artists he’d want to perform at “an updated version” of the 1969 Harlem festival Summer Of Soul, which was the focus of his new documentary.
While Questlove originally included DaBaby’s name on the imaginary lineup, it has now been crossed out.
“I’m not [trying to] be all performative smurf & create a social flogging or start some click bait headlines. That’s missing the point. But right is right & his actions are wrong,” he wrote, adding that homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and racism are all “morally wrong.”
DaBaby responded by reposting Questlove’s message on his own Instagram story, claiming he does not know who The Roots frontman is — despite performing on “The Tonight Show” in 2019, where The Roots serve as the house band.
“These n—-s really think they gone influence people to stop f—in w/ the INFLUENCE,” DaBaby wrote. “I got the influence AND the nuts.”
August 1: DaBaby was dropped from his headlining slot at Lollapalooza
DaBaby was scheduled to headline Lollapalooza on Sunday, the final day of Chicago’s famous music festival.
Instead, that morning, organizers announced he’d been disinvited.
“Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight,” the festival announced on social media.
DaBaby’s prominent slot was given to Young Thug, who was scheduled to perform earlier on Sunday, and G Herbo was added to the afternoon lineup.
August 2: DaBaby was also removed from Governors Ball and Day N Vegas lineups
About 24 hours after his Lollapalooza set was canceled, New York City festival Governors Ball released an updated version of its September lineup, which no longer includes DaBaby.
“Founders Entertainment does not and will not tolerate hate or discrimination of any kind,” the announcement reads. “We welcome and celebrate the diverse communities that make New York City the greatest city in the world. Thank you to the fans who continue to speak up for what’s right. Along with you, we will continue to use our platform for good.”
Shortly after, Day N Vegas announced he’d been replaced by Roddy Ricch for the November festival.
Less than two hours later, DaBaby issued a formal apology on Instagram
In his post, which had comments disabled, DaBaby acknowledged his need for “education” and criticized the speed of backlash online.
“Social media moves so fast that people want to demolish you before you even have the opportunity to grow, educate, and learn from your mistakes,” he wrote. “As a man who has had to make his own way from very difficult circumstances, having people I know publicly working against me — knowing that what I needed was education on these topics and guidance — has been challenging.”
—Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) August 2, 2021
“I appreciate the many people who came to me with kindness, who reached out to me privately to offer wisdom, education, and resources,” he continued. “That’s what I needed and it was received.”
The rapper went on to call his comments “hurtful and triggering,” as well as “misinformed.” His apology was explicitly directed towards “the LGBTQ+ community.”
The post has since been deleted.
August 3: DaBaby was dropped by three more festivals
The day following his Instagram message, DaBaby was removed from three more fall lineups: iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Austin City Limits in Texas, and Music Midtown in Atlanta.
According to Billboard, several festival organizers were told that DaBaby would record a heartfelt video apology to broadcast before his set at Lollapalooza. However, he missed the Sunday morning deadline, which apparently led to his widespread disbarment.
August 31: DaBaby met with leaders from 9 HIV/AIDS awareness organizations
According to a joint statement released by GLAAD, DaBaby joined several Black activists and educators in “a virtual, private meeting” to discuss HIV education.
The meeting included representatives from Black AIDS Institute, Gilead Sciences COMPASS Initiative Coordinating Centers, GLAAD, National Minority AIDS Council, The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Positive Women’s Network-USA, Prevention Access Campaign (U=U), the Southern AIDS Coalition, and Transinclusive Group.
In the statement, the leaders said DaBaby was “genuinely engaged, 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.”
“We appreciate that he openly and eagerly participated in this forum of Black people living with HIV, which provided him an opportunity to learn and to receive accurate information,” the statement continued.
November 4: Rolling Loud announced it would partner with DaBaby for his new tour, citing the company’s belief in ‘second chances’
“Rolling Loud supports second chances and we believe DaBaby has grown and learned from his experience,” the company said in a statement, according to Rolling Stone. “Everyone is welcome and we look forward to DaBaby’s fans seeing him live.”
December 1: Several HIV/AIDS awareness organizations that met with DaBaby said they never heard from him again
According to a report from The Daily Beast, DaBaby never followed up with HIV/AIDS organizations following the meeting in August.
“Since then, we have not received any outreach, partnership, or funding from DaBaby,” Pavni Guharoy, a communications consultant for the Black AIDS Institute, told The Daily Beast.
“The onus is now on him, if he chooses to, to convert his misinformation into allyship by supporting the work of the Black AIDS Institute and other people of color-led HIV organizations,” she added.
Directors for The Normal Anomaly Initiative and Positive Women’s Network also confirmed the group had not received any donations or further communications from DaBaby.