Lil Nas X is no stranger to controversy — he's contested the boundaries of country music with "Old Town Road" (and its subsequent 1,000 remixes), kissed his backup dancer at the BET Awards and set stan Twitter ablaze any number of times. Few other artists would show up to The Tonight Show in a kilt, after all.
Perhaps his "Old Town Road" lyrics said it best: "Can't nobody tell me nothing." Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, certainly doesn't let the critics affect him in any way (instead, he tells any naysayers on Twitter they're "getting kissed").
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He approached his latest single, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," the same way. The track is undeniably queer, with sexually explicit lyrics (such as the genius "shoot a child in yo' mouth while I'm ridin'"), which received immense backlash from social critics and conservatives. And yet, Hill, who identifies as queer, hoped the lyrics would "open doors for many other queer people to simply exist."
The most controversial aspect — besides the infamous lap dance — was the shoes worn in the video, dubbed the "Satan Shoes." The name is quite fitting because, in true Satanic fashion, there's the apparent use of human blood in the shoe's soles, along with the bronze pentagram symbol covering the laces.
Back in March, Nike filed a lawsuit against MSCHF, the streetwear label behind the shoes, and the resulting legal conflict has ensued to this day — culminating in a court-appearance this morning by Lil Nas X.
His fans (who, quite honestly, must be exhausted) flocked to Twitter to defend the rapper, causing #FreeLilNasX to trend. Since then there's been thousands of people pitching in, with comments such as "me distracting the judge so lil nas x can run out the back" and "gen z sending their minimum wages to bail lil nas x."
Lil Nas X himself joined in on the commentary. His origins are in the deep-seated pockets of Twitter, so it's only fitting he responds to controversy in the perfect tone — a self-purported "master" of the internet. As one Twitter user wrote, "This is what happens when a natural-born troll gets a stack of money to play with."
Indeed, controversy sells — shortly after the first videos emerged of the courthouse, Lil Nas X released a video re-enacting the case, parodying the unfortunate circumstances with the humor only he could espouse. The prosecuting lawyer, played by Lil Nas X himself, asks, "Are you gay?" The tone is serious, and yet completely flippant at the same time, and we're left not quite knowing what to expect.
Still, we're laughing alongside Lil Nas X, and then humming as a snippet of "Industry Baby" plays, his next "smash-hit" (as his updated Twitter bio reads).
The track, produced by Kanye West and featuring Jack Harlow, already has the internet in an uproar. Many are praising Lil Nas X's marketing tactics, writing "HOOTING, HOLLERING, SHOUTING! Lil Nas X is a marketing genius and incredible talent! PRODUCED BY KANYE?!"
Indeed, few other stars have been able to capture the odd moment of digital culture in the way that Lil Nas X has, and none have been able to use it to their advantage so seamlessly.
"Industry Baby" drops this Friday, and in the meantime we'll be with the #FreeLilNasX protests — after all, as he tweeted, "who's going to make mildly funny tweets about being gay while i'm away?"
Photo courtesy of Lil Nas X
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