Morgan Wallen took retail giant Walmart to task after copies of his upcoming opus Dangerous: The Double Album appeared on shelves at a small number of stores around the country this weekend. A spokesperson for Walmart says the album was prematurely displayed and sold ahead of its official January 8th release date at “less than 10” of Walmart’s 4,000-plus locations nationwide. Nonetheless, Wallen considered the early stocking mistake a “leak.”
In a trolling Instagram post — location-tagged “Target” — he pledged his chain-store allegiance to a Walmart competitor and suggested his fans buy Dangerous there. “I don’t shop at Walmart anyway,” Wallen said. “I also gave Target two extra songs, so if you’re going to buy my album physically, go to Target, baby.” The bonus songs “This Side of a Dust Cloud” and “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole” expand Dangerous‘ already lengthy track list to 32 songs. Target is also selling an exclusive “clouded vinyl” pressing of Dangerous. Ironically, Walmart has its own vinyl exclusive too: a three-LP blue-colored edition.
“We are deeply apologetic to Morgan for this unfortunate situation,” a spokesperson for Walmart told Rolling Stone. “We appreciate Morgan as an artist and understand his frustration and disappointment. We have protocols in place to help ensure new albums are not sold before the release date, yet in this instance his album made its way to the shelf in a handful of stores early. We’re actively removing any albums remaining on the shelves in those stores to hold until the official release date, and taking additional precautionary measures for the future.”
“If anyone’s gonna leak my music, it should be me,” Wallen wrote on Instagram, promising “links for leaks” to come in his stories. For the most part, he provided on Monday night, posting snippets of “Dangerous,” “Warning,” and “Rednecks, Red Letters, Red Dirt” on TikTok. The first two songs further Wallen and producer Joey Moi’s mix of rapid-fire lyric delivery over a moody, bass-heavy music bed. The loping “Rednecks, Red Letters, Red Dirt,” meanwhile, taps into Wallen’s gift for selling the type of nostalgia he perfected in hits like “7 Summers” and “More Than My Hometown.” “I wanna see my name on a dive-bar wall where the ceilings ain’t but the beers are tall,” he sings in the track.
Dangerous: The Double Album is one of country music’s most anticipated albums of 2021. In December, it became the most pre-added country album in the history of Apple Music, breaking Luke Combs’ record for his album What You See Is What You Get. (Pre-adds allow listeners to play one song off an upcoming album and automatically adds the album to their library when the record is released.) Dangerous, released via Big Loud Records and Republic Records, is the follow-up to Wallen’s 2018 debut If I Know Me.
Like Combs, Wallen is emerging as a country-music streaming superstar. He accumulated more than 1.8 billion streams in 2020, a figure that points to a digital future for the genre and its audience. As one Wallen fan tweeted upon finding Dangerous for sale early at Walmart: “I don’t have a CD player anymore.”