Joe Rogan has apologized after singer India Arie shared an edited compilation of him using the N-word several times on his podcast.
The podcaster found himself at the center of renewed controversy after the musician explained she was removing her music from Spotify because of it. Rogan has now called it “the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly”.
Many musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell also removed their music from Spotify recently over concerns about Covid-19 “misinformation” being spread on his popular podcast, exclusively available on the audio streaming service.
In an Instagram video posted on Saturday, the podcaster said: “There’s a compilation made of clips, taken out of context, of me of 12 years of conversations on my podcast. It’s all smooshed together and it looks f***ing horrible, even to me.”
Rogan, whose podcast is called The Joe Rogan Experience, attempted to explain his reasoning for using the racial slur. “I know for most people there’s no context where a white person is allowed to say that word – and I agree with that now,” he said. “I haven’t said it for years … I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”
“I never used it to be racist, because I’m not racist,” he added. “But whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist’, you’ve f***ed up. And I’ve clearly f***ed up.”
He also addressed a resurfaced story he told in an old podcast episode that saw him compare a Black neighborhood to the film Planet of the Apes.
“I was telling a story on the podcast about me and my friend Tommy and his girlfriend,” he told his followers. “We got really high and we went to see Planet of the Apes. We got dropped off in this all-Black neighborhood and I was trying to make the story entertaining. I said, ‘We got out and it was like we were in Africa, we were in Planet of the Apes. I did not and nor would I ever say that Black people were apes, but it sure f***ing sounded like that. I immediately said afterwards it was a racist thing to say.”
The podcaster offered his “sincerest apologies” for the resurfaced videos, captioning the post: “There’s been a lot of s*** from the old episodes of the podcast that I wish I hadn’t said, or had said differently. This is my take on the worst of it.”
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On Tuesday, Grammy-winning singer Arie branded the podcaster “problematic”, saying she came to her decision to remove her music from Spotify after “Neil Young opened a door that I must walk through”.
At the time, Arie didn’t mention what she was referring to but due to the media’s pick-up of her decision, she told her followers that she’d like to clarify her stance. On Instagram, she then posted an edited reel of YouTube clips that show Rogan using the racial slur 22 times.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have a reported deal with Spotify worth £18m, also released a statement on Sunday (30 January), in which they said they have spoken to the music platform’s bosses about their concerns regarding Covid “disinformation”.
In the wake of the boycott, Spotify said it would add Covid-19 content advisory labels.
Rogan addressed the controversy in a lengthy video posted to Instagram on Monday (31 January), stating that he thinks “a lot of people had a distorted perception of what I do”. However, I supported Spotify’s decision to add content advisory labels.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.