Photo by Michele Doying / The Verge
Just after Spotify removed around 70 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast without offering an explanation, Rogan posted a video on Instagram apologizing for saying the N-word on his show in the past (via New York Times). In his apology, Rogan specifically addresses a clip compilation, which was shared by singer India Arie, that shows Rogan saying the N-word repeatedly during podcast episodes over several years.
“I know that to most people, there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now,” Rogan says. “Instead of saying the N-word, I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”
Rogan says the clips were taken “out of context,” and that he used the N-word when talking about comedians, such as Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and Lenny Bruce, who used the word in the past. He also apologizes for another clip in which he compares being in an area with a large population of Black people to the film Planet of the Apes, and says that “immediately afterward” he told the story he called it “a racist thing to say.” According to Rogan, he chose to delete that episode because it was “clunky.”
Arie shared the compilation on her Instagram story just days after she announced her departure from Spotify. Arie joins artists Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Nils Lofgren in leaving Spotify in protest of Rogan’s podcast. But unlike Young, Mitchell, and Lofgren, who are protesting the podcast over its potential spread of COVID-19 misinformation, Arie says she’s troubled by Rogan’s “language around race.”
Spotify has faced a growing backlash for its handling of Rogan’s podcast, which it hosts exclusively after inking a $100 million deal with Rogan in 2020. Critics, including dozens of medical and scientific professionals, argue that Spotify should address the apparent COVID-19 misinformation in Rogan’s podcast, which includes a suggestion that healthy young adults don’t need to get vaccinated. Spotify later responded by putting warning labels on episodes that talk about COVID.
Spotify still hasn’t confirmed Rogan’s racist remarks as the reason why it pulled dozens of his episodes. The Verge reached out to Spotify with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.