“The mood of the show is about love and forgiveness,” Diddy told Billboard in a pre-show interview. “As a musical family, none of us are saints; none of us are without things that happen to them in life. So one of the things I’m doing directly is un-canceling the canceled. That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.”
Speaking specifically about the incident, Diddy said, “Morgan [used the N-word] while talking to his boy. People make mistakes. Now we’re moving on with love and respect for everybody that was hurt or affected. It’s time to forgive. … Everybody in the room is getting a second chance at life, you know, because we’re back inside with no masks on. We need love and I’m excited about celebrating that.”
For the uninitiated, TMZ released a video in February 2021 of Wallen hurling profanities (including the N-word) while returning home from a night out with friends. His music was temporarily pulled from radio stations and streaming platforms, and he was formally disinvited from multiple award shows — including the 2021 Billboard Music Awards.
Following “extensive internal discussions” within MRC, the company that produces the BBMAs, Wallen was permitted to return for Sunday’s main event.
“We oppose discrimination, harassment, or racism of any kind,” MRC said in a statement. “We believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect. After a thorough review and robust discussions internally and with the artist’s team, in which we found a demonstrated and ongoing commitment to meaningful work and outreach, we extended an invitation to participate in this year’s show.”
Morgan entered this year’s ceremony with four nominations: Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Country Artist, Top Male Country Artist and Top Billboard 200 Album.
Other performers at this year’s BBMAs include Becky G, Burna Boy, Dan + Shay, Ed Sheeran, Elle King, Florence + the Machine, Latto, Machine Gun Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, Megan Thee Stallion, Miranda Lambert, Rauw Alejandro, Silk Sonic and Travis Scott. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were originally scheduled to perform, but the band had to back out “due to unforeseen circumstances” less than a week before the big show.
There are also big names stepping up to the podium to hand out trophies. This year’s list of presenters includes Anthony Anderson, Anitta, Chloe Bailey, Dixie D’Amelio, DJ Khaled, Dove Cameron, Giveon, Heidi Klum, Liza Koshy, Michael Bublé, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor and Tiffany Haddish.
Hit PLAY on Wallen’s performances above, then grade the BBMAs moment below and drop a comment with your thoughts on the singer’s return.