Sean “Diddy” Combs opened the 2022 Billboard Awards Sunday night, May 15, as emcee with a showstopping performance featuring a variety of guests, including Bryson Tiller, rapper Jack Harlow, Teyana Taylor and his son King Combs. However, as the night went on, the musical soon faced some criticisms from viewers after he declared several of the evening’s performers, specifically country singer Morgan Wallen, officially “uncanceled.”
“We’re uncanceling the canceled,” Diddy said about an hour-and-a-half into the night. “[Brother] Love does not rock like that. I looked at Morgan’s situation. I looked at Travis’ situation. And I said, man, I got some power to do something about that because we can’t start that in the music industry or even in life, period. So I’m here to forgive, to unify, to celebrate, and to have everybody be free.” The music mogul added, “That’s my job.”
Wallen, 29, found himself amid controversy in February 2021 after a leaked video showed him in a drunken state while using the N-word following what appeared to be a night out with friends. In the footage, the “Wasted on You” crooner could be heard telling someone to “take care of” this “p—y a– motherf–-er.” “Take care of this p—y a– n—er,” he added.
The singer ultimately apologized for his comments and met with several Black-led organizations to speak about the incident. The artist reportedly promised to donate $500,000, though it’s unclear whether the groups received the funds.
Many of the show’s viewers slammed Diddy for showing support for Wallen, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Diddy knew about the Morgan Wallen incident and STILL let him perform in the name of love. Pathetic.”
“Diddy ‘uncanceling’ Morgan Wallen and having him perform at the show while awarding Tamika Mallory an award for her dedication to activism makes no sense,” commented another critic.
A third person highlighted the poor timing of Diddy’s comments, which also came on the hills of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, after authorities say Payton Gendron, a heavily armed white 18-year-old man who identifies himself as a white supremacist, entered a Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood around 2:30 p.m., killing 10 people and leaving three injured.
The shooter broadcast the onslaught on Twitch, a live-streaming platform.
“A yt man walked into a supermarket to kill black people with n*gger written on the rifle meanwhile diddy just ‘uncancelled’ Morgan Wallen who had the same word in his mouth…it’s getting weird,” wrote one Twitter user.
Travis Scott was among the artists also pardoned by Diddy. The “Sicko Mode” rapper, who is at the center of a dozen high-dollar lawsuits, gave his first on-air performance since the Astroworld Festival tragedy last November 2021, which left 10 people dead and hundreds more injured following a crowd rush.