It features Lil Durk, if that helps?
Over the last year and change, Morgan Wallen has seemingly become the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with bro country. He was kicked out of Kid Rock’s honky tonk (a very difficult task to accomplish), and arrested for public intoxication and disorderly conduct at the end of 2020. Earlier this year he was slated to be one of the first musical guests on SNL’s return from Covid hiatus, but was caught on camera in a crowded party maskless ahead of filming and was booted from the lineup. All the while, Wallen’s critically acclaimed double album Dangerous was winning him awards and cementing him the new face of country music. After footage from a neighbor’s security camera released by TMZ in February showed Wallen drunkenly using the N-word though, he was quickly abandoned and condemned by every institution in the music industry that had been celebrating him. But as the year comes to a close, it would appear that Wallen wants us all to forgive and forget. He’s now released his first new music since the incident, a single titled “Broadway Girls” with Lil Durk.
Wallen leads the song’s first verse and chorus, a gravelly, forced-sounding, almost rap about women who party on Nashville’s famed neon strip of lower Broadway that turns into a crooney, auto-tuned lament, “better leave those Broadway girls alone.” Lil Durk then takes over, and the song at least starts to sound more like recognizable music and less like a Lonely Island production. There’s some mention of horses, because how else would we know this song is supposed to be about the south without them? But in 2021 it just makes the single sound like its searching for “Old Town Road” kind of relevance in all the wrong places.
The irony is dizzying for Wallen to sing about how terrible women are for partying on the same stretch of bars where he was arrested, but it’s certainly not the most confounding aspect of the collaboration. Why Lil Durk wants Morgan Wallen as his sideman is certainly the most mystifying component of all — but from the vibes their social media posts give off, this is a union of minds that are blissfully moving on from Wallen’s flagrant use of a racial slur to marry “trenches x country.” No matter how mediocre and bizarre the song is though, it perfectly courts the popular, hellish genre of “hick-hop,” so “Broadway Girls” is likely to be blared across jukeboxes at rural dive bars.
Wallen did do the PR rounds this past summer on a post-rehab apology tour, where he most notably sat down with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America. In the interview Wallen feigned ignorance saying, “I haven't seen that with my eyes. That pain or that insignificant feeling. Or whatever that is that [the use of that word] makes you feel." Strahan was quick to educate him that the word has always been used to dehumanize black people, and “it's also a word that a lot of black people heard before they were terrorized, beaten or possibly even killed.”
One of the more disturbing facets of the whole incident is that after Wallen was cancelled for his behavior, country fans started buying his album in droves as a show of support and clear dismissal of the issue. Dangerous is currently poised to be the most sold album of the year — astonishing when you consider it’s a year that saw huge releases from Adele and Taylor Swift. Wallen pledged to donate $500,000 of the money he earned from his awkward uptick in sales to black music organizations, but it has been reported that the organizations that Wallen cited have yet to receive any money from him. But despite his huge record sales, he’s not instantly recognizable outside of the base of people buying his music — a fact that likely made Durk feel empowered to collect the check without any consequence. As Wallen moves on to this new “Broadway Girls” era of his career, it feels unlikely that we will see any more repentance from him on the incident.