A Tale of Two Cancels: DaBaby and Michael Che on the Chopping Block

A timeline of last week's events in cancel culture and a lesson in terrible PR.

A Tale of Two Cancels: DaBaby and Michael Che on the Chopping Block

By

Aaron Chan

8/2/2021 2:53 PM

Well, it took about one week and two really bad apologies for us to realize we actually don’t like DaBaby. In the three days following this year’s Rolling Loud where his crowd hyping interlude quickly became an ugly rant directed at homosexuals, women, and people with auto-immune disorders, the rapper has been swiftly disavowed by the pop elite and dropped from the lineups of three festivals. The rapper’s brash comments were shockingly ignorant even by hip hop standards. Nah fuck that, ignorant even by elementary schoolyard standards. When DaBaby called for his fans to lift their lighters if they didn’t have AIDS, delivered oral coitus in the parking lot (that night?), or if their genitals smelled like bottled water would make even the most cynical offenders stroke their chins and go “that motherfucker, he good.”

It makes you look back and ask yourself what differentiates DaBaby from the 30 other trap rappers grinding for streams right now besides being able to afford effective beats. Even in hindsight, DaBaby’s incline felt pretty rapidfire, releasing three albums in 13 months with all of the tracks from his sophomore Kirk charting at some point during its run in 2019.

We’re almost done 2021...we’ve gotten pretty efficient at cancelling people. There are less arguments now, less memes, and less questions. Still, it was pretty overwhelming to receive news of Michael Che hitting the potential chopping block last Thursday in the middle of the DaBaby controversy. The SNL head writer already recovering from his “Gen Z Hospital” appropriation sketch starring Elon Musk was either bored, day drunk, or my vote…both and took to his Instagram story to repost jokes comparing recent Olympic superstar and mental health champion Simone Biles to registered pedophile Larry Nasser.

I don’t need to sit here and get to the bottom of the ethics behind Che and DaBaby’s subject matter which is by and large really really bad. Further, in an era where comedians and musicians complain about how difficult it is to make art in an overly PC climate, DaBaby and Michael Che are textbook examples of how entertainers drop the ball by making bad artistic decisions.

Good creators survive via subversion; in an era of uncreative people and following, this often translates to controversy, which is oftentimes lazy, though exciting when done respectfully; if you play with matches, expect to get burned. It was nice to see Elton John’s tweets criticizing DaBaby’s rant, since he so famously endorsed Eminem twenty years ago. There’s a difference; as brash as Eminem was, he was careful to ensure his views never extended beyond songs, thereby pushing the limits of free speech rather than spreading misinformation. Whether he was successful or not through a contemporary lens, Eminem was indisputably more interested in expressing hate as an emotion rather than as a demand and shock value as a strategy instead of an extension of his personal beliefs.

The standard for Michael Che as a standup comedian reaches even higher. Maybe if SNL wasn’t on hiatus due to horrendous ratings & reviews and a shoddy diversity cleanup, Che could have saved his Simone Biles jokes for the Update Desk or kept it shut. Properly edgy comedians are supposed to dig their own grave by saying something totally outrageous (the more, the better honestly) and then proceed to spend the next five minutes winning back the audience. By posting the most offensive part of someone else’s joke as text through social media posts, Che is without his tools: body language, tone of voice, use of space, physicality…setup? This guy posted the raw data of a routine that would be hard for Dave Chappelle to navigate. Imagine if Slash recorded a terrific solo and then posted the sheet music on Ultimate Guitar dot com without releasing a final master, expecting you all to clap your hands and not be confused and outraged.

What’s worse, these guys' PR teams are probably just as bad as they are. DaBaby’s apologies were baffling if not absent, further revealing his lack of scientific knowledge and dismissing the LGBTQ community. Che shriveled, removing his Instagram entirely after alleging that he had been hacked. Believe me as a person who has been closely entwined in the news cycle for the entirety of 2021, this story is far from over. Consensus on DaBaby seems to be a tug of war between a predictably silent rap label industry & their proudly ignorant fanbases against pop entities & their backing corporations who are separating themselves as fast and as far as they can from the Cleveland rapper. Michael Che has yet to put out an apology nor has NBC released a statement regarding the outcome of his contract. 

So please, get filled in on DaBaby and a bit on Michael Che who are at the apex of their cancellation trajectories.

UPDATE: DABABY HAS RELEASED AN OFFICIAL APOLOGY

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border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div></div></div><div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div><div style="display:block; height:50px; margin:0 auto 12px; width:50px;"><svg width="50px" height="50px" viewBox="0 0 60 60" version="1.1" xmlns="https://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"><g stroke="none" stroke-width="1" fill="none" fill-rule="evenodd"><g transform="translate(-511.000000, -20.000000)" fill="#000000"><g><path d="M556.869,30.41 C554.814,30.41 553.148,32.076 553.148,34.131 C553.148,36.186 554.814,37.852 556.869,37.852 C558.924,37.852 560.59,36.186 560.59,34.131 C560.59,32.076 558.924,30.41 556.869,30.41 M541,60.657 C535.114,60.657 530.342,55.887 530.342,50 C530.342,44.114 535.114,39.342 541,39.342 C546.887,39.342 551.658,44.114 551.658,50 C551.658,55.887 546.887,60.657 541,60.657 M541,33.886 C532.1,33.886 524.886,41.1 524.886,50 C524.886,58.899 532.1,66.113 541,66.113 C549.9,66.113 557.115,58.899 557.115,50 C557.115,41.1 549.9,33.886 541,33.886 M565.378,62.101 C565.244,65.022 564.756,66.606 564.346,67.663 C563.803,69.06 563.154,70.057 562.106,71.106 C561.058,72.155 560.06,72.803 558.662,73.347 C557.607,73.757 556.021,74.244 553.102,74.378 C549.944,74.521 548.997,74.552 541,74.552 C533.003,74.552 532.056,74.521 528.898,74.378 C525.979,74.244 524.393,73.757 523.338,73.347 C521.94,72.803 520.942,72.155 519.894,71.106 C518.846,70.057 518.197,69.06 517.654,67.663 C517.244,66.606 516.755,65.022 516.623,62.101 C516.479,58.943 516.448,57.996 516.448,50 C516.448,42.003 516.479,41.056 516.623,37.899 C516.755,34.978 517.244,33.391 517.654,32.338 C518.197,30.938 518.846,29.942 519.894,28.894 C520.942,27.846 521.94,27.196 523.338,26.654 C524.393,26.244 525.979,25.756 528.898,25.623 C532.057,25.479 533.004,25.448 541,25.448 C548.997,25.448 549.943,25.479 553.102,25.623 C556.021,25.756 557.607,26.244 558.662,26.654 C560.06,27.196 561.058,27.846 562.106,28.894 C563.154,29.942 563.803,30.938 564.346,32.338 C564.756,33.391 565.244,34.978 565.378,37.899 C565.522,41.056 565.552,42.003 565.552,50 C565.552,57.996 565.522,58.943 565.378,62.101 M570.82,37.631 C570.674,34.438 570.167,32.258 569.425,30.349 C568.659,28.377 567.633,26.702 565.965,25.035 C564.297,23.368 562.623,22.342 560.652,21.575 C558.743,20.834 556.562,20.326 553.369,20.18 C550.169,20.033 549.148,20 541,20 C532.853,20 531.831,20.033 528.631,20.18 C525.438,20.326 523.257,20.834 521.349,21.575 C519.376,22.342 517.703,23.368 516.035,25.035 C514.368,26.702 513.342,28.377 512.574,30.349 C511.834,32.258 511.326,34.438 511.181,37.631 C511.035,40.831 511,41.851 511,50 C511,58.147 511.035,59.17 511.181,62.369 C511.326,65.562 511.834,67.743 512.574,69.651 C513.342,71.625 514.368,73.296 516.035,74.965 C517.703,76.634 519.376,77.658 521.349,78.425 C523.257,79.167 525.438,79.673 528.631,79.82 C531.831,79.965 532.853,80.001 541,80.001 C549.148,80.001 550.169,79.965 553.369,79.82 C556.562,79.673 558.743,79.167 560.652,78.425 C562.623,77.658 564.297,76.634 565.965,74.965 C567.633,73.296 568.659,71.625 569.425,69.651 C570.167,67.743 570.674,65.562 570.82,62.369 C570.966,59.17 571,58.147 571,50 C571,41.851 570.966,40.831 570.82,37.631"></path></g></g></g></svg></div><div style="padding-top: 8px;"><div style=" color:#3897f0; 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padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CSFMMBbpc3F/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;" target="_blank">A post shared by LONG LIVE G (@dababy)</a></p></div></blockquote><script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script>


Sunday, July 25:

Miami music festival Rolling Loud’s third day completes its first festival run since 2019 and the first major music festival in over a year with a third day featuring high billed sets from Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby. DaBaby initially ruffles feathers by bringing out surprise guest Tory Lanez, revealing the singer via furry costume to perform their collaboration, the aptly titled “SKAT.” Lanez allegedly shot Megan Thee Stallion in the foot in July 2020 before being charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

DaBaby’s recent partnership with Tory Lanez has caused confusion and disownment that DaBaby, Stallion’s close collaborator, would make music with her attacker. It is revealed later in the week that Lanez may have violated a restraining order as DaBaby’s set followed Stallion’s and she was still on the premises when Lanez was sneaked onto the stage.

Things get even uglier when DaBaby’s attempts to hype up the hungry Rolling Loud audience become gay and misogynistic slurs.

“You didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, any of those deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die [in] two, three weeks, put your cellphone light in the air…Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put a cell phone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking n**** dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lights in the air.”

He ends the lecture with “Yo, keep it fucking real,” followed by the sound of a gun being cocked.

Monday, July 26:

After an expected public outcry, DaBaby takes to his Instagram story delivering a loose statement while on his back. The rapper attempts to explain how his comments are not directed at all gay people, just the ones who aren’t his fans. Additionally, DaBaby mentions that his on stage diatribe was not a reflection of his personal views, more of a call to action:

“[My gay fans] don’t got AIDS. My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain’t no nasty gay n***as. See what I’m saying? They ain’t no junkies in the street. The hell you talking about, n***as? Then I said if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up. You know what my gay fans did? Put that motherfucking light up, n***a, ’cause my gay fans ain’t going for that. They got class. They ain’t sucking no dick in no parking lot. N***a, you gotta get a room. A good one, five-star hotel. Even my gay fans got standards.”

Tory Lanez posts his own video exclaiming: “If you gonna have the Lil Nas X video and him living his truth, you gonna damn sure have people like DaBaby who gonna speak their truth. Ain’t nothing wrong with none of it, it ain’t got to be no hate — it’s all honesty. Everybody living in their truth.”

Tuesday morning, July 27:

The celebrity excommunication process begins with global pop sensation Dua Lipa who featured DaBaby on her “Levitating” remix (which currently holds over 800 million streams). Lipa takes to her Instagram story saying she is “surprised and horrified” by the rapper’s comments.

“I really don’t recognize this as the person I worked with,” she wrote. “I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100% with the LGTBQ [sic] community. We need to come together to fight the stigma and ignorance around HIV/AIDS.”

The song is quickly removed from multiple Apple Music playlists and replaced by the solo version on Dua Lipa’s Essentials on Spotify.

Tuesday afternoon, July 27:

DaBaby takes to Twitter to half apologize – half further reveal his ignorance of AIDS and female hygiene.

He apologizes exclusively to people with AIDS while notably dismissing the LGBTQ community. He then calls out an industry he labels as racist and “artists who profit off of black rappers influence…” presumably referring to Dua Lipa.

 

I tell fans to put a cellphone light in the air y’all start a million man March.✊🏾
I told you y’all digested that wrong 🤷🏾‍♂️but I ain’t gone lie I’m impressed.
Now show this same amount of support when a racist cop kill one of our black ass…YA NOT 😂
Anybody who done ever been effected by AIDS/HIV y’all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies 🙏🏾
But the LGBT community… I ain’t trippin on y’all, do you. y’all business is y’all business.
& for any brands, networks, or artists that like to profit off of black rappers influence on the culture, without understanding it or having the patience to deal with what comes with the position we play in our culture.
Keep yo money next time
us “NIGGAS” human too.
#GodBless
Other than that y’all cheer the fuck up & be proud of who you are cuz you can’t make me feel less of myself. 💪🏾
Aside from that
HIDALGO, TEXAS
&
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
Get them tickets for Friday & Saturday so I can show y’all how da fuck I get down. 🔥
#LIVESHOWKILLA


Wednesday morning, July 28:

Longtime champion of AIDS activism and philanthropy, Elton John releases a statement denouncing what he calls a spread of misinformation and homophobia.

Wednesday afternoon July 28:

DaBaby drops the assumingly rushed video for “Giving What It’s Supposed to Give.” The rapper makes two references to the recent fiasco by holding up a sign that says “AIDS” and spelling out  “My apologies for being me the same way you want the freedom to be you,” in rainbow colours. The rapper also likes several tweets that attack Lipa and compare him to Eminem.

Thursday, July 29:

Madonna joins the growing list of artists chastising DaBaby’s remarks with her own lesson on AIDS and misogyny.

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border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div></div></div><div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div><div style="display:block; height:50px; margin:0 auto 12px; width:50px;"><svg width="50px" height="50px" viewBox="0 0 60 60" version="1.1" xmlns="https://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"><g stroke="none" stroke-width="1" fill="none" fill-rule="evenodd"><g transform="translate(-511.000000, -20.000000)" fill="#000000"><g><path d="M556.869,30.41 C554.814,30.41 553.148,32.076 553.148,34.131 C553.148,36.186 554.814,37.852 556.869,37.852 C558.924,37.852 560.59,36.186 560.59,34.131 C560.59,32.076 558.924,30.41 556.869,30.41 M541,60.657 C535.114,60.657 530.342,55.887 530.342,50 C530.342,44.114 535.114,39.342 541,39.342 C546.887,39.342 551.658,44.114 551.658,50 C551.658,55.887 546.887,60.657 541,60.657 M541,33.886 C532.1,33.886 524.886,41.1 524.886,50 C524.886,58.899 532.1,66.113 541,66.113 C549.9,66.113 557.115,58.899 557.115,50 C557.115,41.1 549.9,33.886 541,33.886 M565.378,62.101 C565.244,65.022 564.756,66.606 564.346,67.663 C563.803,69.06 563.154,70.057 562.106,71.106 C561.058,72.155 560.06,72.803 558.662,73.347 C557.607,73.757 556.021,74.244 553.102,74.378 C549.944,74.521 548.997,74.552 541,74.552 C533.003,74.552 532.056,74.521 528.898,74.378 C525.979,74.244 524.393,73.757 523.338,73.347 C521.94,72.803 520.942,72.155 519.894,71.106 C518.846,70.057 518.197,69.06 517.654,67.663 C517.244,66.606 516.755,65.022 516.623,62.101 C516.479,58.943 516.448,57.996 516.448,50 C516.448,42.003 516.479,41.056 516.623,37.899 C516.755,34.978 517.244,33.391 517.654,32.338 C518.197,30.938 518.846,29.942 519.894,28.894 C520.942,27.846 521.94,27.196 523.338,26.654 C524.393,26.244 525.979,25.756 528.898,25.623 C532.057,25.479 533.004,25.448 541,25.448 C548.997,25.448 549.943,25.479 553.102,25.623 C556.021,25.756 557.607,26.244 558.662,26.654 C560.06,27.196 561.058,27.846 562.106,28.894 C563.154,29.942 563.803,30.938 564.346,32.338 C564.756,33.391 565.244,34.978 565.378,37.899 C565.522,41.056 565.552,42.003 565.552,50 C565.552,57.996 565.522,58.943 565.378,62.101 M570.82,37.631 C570.674,34.438 570.167,32.258 569.425,30.349 C568.659,28.377 567.633,26.702 565.965,25.035 C564.297,23.368 562.623,22.342 560.652,21.575 C558.743,20.834 556.562,20.326 553.369,20.18 C550.169,20.033 549.148,20 541,20 C532.853,20 531.831,20.033 528.631,20.18 C525.438,20.326 523.257,20.834 521.349,21.575 C519.376,22.342 517.703,23.368 516.035,25.035 C514.368,26.702 513.342,28.377 512.574,30.349 C511.834,32.258 511.326,34.438 511.181,37.631 C511.035,40.831 511,41.851 511,50 C511,58.147 511.035,59.17 511.181,62.369 C511.326,65.562 511.834,67.743 512.574,69.651 C513.342,71.625 514.368,73.296 516.035,74.965 C517.703,76.634 519.376,77.658 521.349,78.425 C523.257,79.167 525.438,79.673 528.631,79.82 C531.831,79.965 532.853,80.001 541,80.001 C549.148,80.001 550.169,79.965 553.369,79.82 C556.562,79.673 558.743,79.167 560.652,78.425 C562.623,77.658 564.297,76.634 565.965,74.965 C567.633,73.296 568.659,71.625 569.425,69.651 C570.167,67.743 570.674,65.562 570.82,62.369 C570.966,59.17 571,58.147 571,50 C571,41.851 570.966,40.831 570.82,37.631"></path></g></g></g></svg></div><div style="padding-top: 8px;"><div style=" color:#3897f0; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> View this post on Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div><div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div><div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div><div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div><div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div><div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"></div></div><div style="margin-left: auto;"><div style=" width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"></div><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"></div><div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"></div></div></div><div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"></div><div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"></div></div></a><p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CR7iJQqgyUO/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none;" target="_blank">A post shared by Madonna (@madonna)</a></p></div></blockquote><script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script>

 

Michael Che’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

 

On July 29, Michael Che took to his Instagram story to express his views on Simone Biles, claiming he had a fountain of jokes and that he wanted to perform them at The Comedy Cellar that same night. Shortly after, Che screenshot jokes suggested by his followers, commenting how offensive they were before giving them high ratings out of ten. The jokes compare Biles to disgraced Olympic doctor and sexual predator Larry Nasser among other things. The names of the people were not redacted.

Che returned to his Instagram around an hour later, this time for a grid post explaining how his account had been hacked and using his political and racial issue based act as a crutch.Che removed his Instagram after entirely. NBC, SNL, and HBO Max all who have contracts with Che have yet to provide a statement.


Friday, July 30:

Questlove denounces DaBaby, removing him off his Dream lineup for a modern day iteration of Summer of Soul posted earlier this year.

DaBaby responds with shade, claiming he does not know who Questlove is despite being in the American entertainment industry and even performing with The Roots on The Tonight Show.

“I ain’t even tryna be funny when i say …. i do NOT KNOW WHO DIS N**** IS DAWG & do not care bout loosing you as a fan my boy lol @questlove. You or any other n**** who wanna play follow the leader . This superstar you was a fan of is STAND UP n****, Yeen never seen one of these huh?”

He goes on: “These n****s really think they gone influence people to stop fuckin w/ the INFLUENCE,” he continued. “I got da influence AND the nuts n****” and “Y’all extra ass n**** tagging along playing on my top like I’m a n**** you can bully or sumn…goin out y’all way creating art work & shit tryna gain fans off my situation cuz it’s QUIET for y’all. N****s better hit the studio or sumn.”


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FESTIVALS THAT HAVE DROPPED DABABY: