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Five on it: education or cancellation? Miley Cyrus says DaBaby should have a chance to change

The responses to DaBaby's homophobic comments have ranged from condemnation to encouraging growth. But how many chances should we give those who seem to double down?

06 Aug 2021

It feels like an age despite only being a couple of weeks, yet the DaBaby debacle rumbles on – and rightly so. On the off chance that you’ve had an internet sabbatical, the Cleveland rapper made some highly offensive, ignorant and homophobic comments when performing at Rolling Loud Miami music festival in late July. 

The video footage filmed by audience members shows the 29-year-old rapper telling fans to put their cell phone lights in the air if they “didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two or three weeks”. DaBaby took to Instagram to speak on the incident over several videos following the widespread criticism, but opted to double down instead of apologising for his words, remarking that his gay fans “got class” and “take care of they self” in relation to having the virus. 

The backlash gained momentum with festivals including Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball and Austin City Limits dropping DaBaby from their line-ups, plus a number of high-profile people including Elton John (whose non-profit organisation supports HIV-related programs), Jonathan Van Ness (who is living with HIV) and Dua Lipa (who released an official remix of ‘Levitating’ featuring DaBaby) airing their criticism, the latter saying “I really don’t recognise this as the person I worked with” and that she stands “100% with the LGBTQ community”. 

The whole incident feels more shocking due to the archaic and misinformed nature of the comments, harking back to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and not accounting for the knowledge of the present, including the fact that people living with HIV can lead long, healthy and fulfilling lives and that positive status is neither exclusive or synonymous with homosexuality. On the other end of the critical spectrum sits Miley Cyrus who instead offered an olive branch to DaBaby in order to educate him on the matter at hand. The singer – who identifies as pansexual and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights with her charity Happy Hippie Foundation – shared an Instagram post that stated:

“As a proud and loyal member of the LGBTQIA+ community, much of my life has been dedicated to encouraging love and acceptance, and open mindedness. The internet can fuel a lot of hate & anger and is the nucleus of cancel culture… but I believe it can also be a place filled with education, conversation, communication and connection. 

“It is easier to cancel someone than to find forgiveness and compassion in ourselves or take the time to change hearts and minds. There’s no more room for division if we want to keep seeing progress! Knowledge is power! I know I still have much to learn!”

Whilst the internet is, indeed, quick and reactive when it comes to cancelling those with proven problematic behaviour, Miley is correct when she observes that it confines a person and does not allow for growth within the backlash. Growth is the nature of existing and a pivotal part of being human. But at what point is cancel culture actually justified, especially when the person being cancelled shows little to questionably-timed remorse for their actions? Will DaBaby step up, see the implications of his ignorance and recognise his next chapter requires meaningful change? 

The Weeknd – ‘Take My Breath’

With the shiny new video pulled from IMAX screenings this week due to its intense strobe lighting and fear of sparking seizures, The Weeknd’s new single ‘Take My Breath’ evidently continues a maximalist streak established on After Hours. This latest cut pushes the retro influence further back into the 70s, catching a disco beat and funky, Chic-esque groove: it’s breathtakingly fun.  

Jorja Smith x GuiltyBeatz – ‘All of This’

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Victoria Monét – ‘Coastin’’

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Tierra Whack – ‘Walk The Beat’

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IAMDDB – ‘Silver Lines’

The bass is in overdrive this week, but hey, who’s complaining? ‘Silver Lines’ by IAMDDB – the moniker of singer-songwriter Diana De Brito – similarly makes good use of a compulsive rhythm and simple beat. Offset by rich, summery synth tones, the catchy hook of the chorus is airy and light before segueing into clear words of wisdom: “God is a woman and woman is love / Love heals, and healing happens when you love who you are.”