The rapper drew backlash after telling the crowd during his set on Sunday: “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS… put your cellphone light up… Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone light up.”
The insensitive comments quickly drew backlash online, with many levelling accusations of homophobia at DaBaby. The rapper defended his actions in a series of 19 videos in his Instagram Stories, saying: “What I do at a live show is for the audience at the live show. It’ll never translate correctly to somebody looking at a little five, six-second clip from their goddamn crib on their phone.
“Because, regardless of what y’all motherfuckers are talking about and how the internet twisted up my motherfucking words, me and all my fans at the show, the gay ones and the straight ones, we turned the fuck up.”
The rapper has touched on his controversial remarks once again in a self-directed video for his new song ‘Giving What It’s Supposed to Give’. The video ends with the message “Don’t Fight Hate With Hate” in rainbow lettering. “My apologies for being me, the same way you want the freedom to be you,” it concludes.
Midway through the video the rapper also holds up a sign saying “AIDS” in sync with the lyric, “Bitch, we like AIDS, I’m on your ass, we won’t go away,” presumably filmed prior to the controversy over the weekend.
Multiple artists and organisations criticised DaBaby for his comments after they were first made. Elton John – who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation charity in 1992 – took to Instagram to condemn his statements, saying they “fuel stigma and discrimination.”
HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust also denounced his comments, saying that they “perpetuate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, as well as spreading misinformation about HIV.”
Dua Lipa, who collaborated with DaBaby on a remix of her song ‘Levitating’, said she was “surprised and horrified” by the rapper’s comments. “I really don’t recognise this as the person I worked with,” she said.
“I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100 per cent with the LGTBQ community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”