Morgan Wallen says he used the N-word with a 'certain group' of friends to be 'playful'

Morgan Wallen
(Image credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images for YouTube)

Country music star Morgan Wallen has given his first interview since he was caught on video saying the N-word, claiming he was trying to be "playful" with his friends and didn't mean to use the slur in a "derogatory manner."

Wallen spoke with Good Morning America on Friday to address the video that emerged in February of him using the N-word with a group of friends, which led his label to suspend him and radio stations to pull his music.

"I was around some of my friends, and we say dumb stuff together," Wallen said. "It was, in our minds, it's playful ... that sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from, and it's wrong."

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Wallen told GMA he doesn't use the N-word "frequently," but acknowledged he's done so "around this certain group of friends," while contending he "didn't mean it in any derogatory manner at all." He added that he understands "especially when I say that I'm using it playfully or whatever, ignorantly, I understand that that must sound, you know, like, 'He doesn't understand.'"

The singer also revealed that in the wake of the scandal, he checked himself into rehab to figure out, "why am I acting this way?" Despite the outrage, sales of Wallen's music actually increased in the wake of the scandal. Because of this, Wallen told GMA he'll donate $500,000 to several organizations, a number his team calculated based on "how much [the music] actually spiked from this incident."

By the end of the interview, when asked if he thinks country music has a race problem, Wallen said it "would seem that way," but "I haven't really sat and thought about that."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.