Lil Nas X transformed Brooklyn's Barclays Center stage into a neon pink "Montero Prison" on Sunday night for the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. And it definitely made for an epic performance with show-stealing dance breaks.
The artist began with a grand entrance in a band captain's uniform with a whole marching band behind him. As he got on stage, he stripped into pink joggers, singing "Industry Baby" alongside collaborator Jack Harlow. And he ended in pink sequinned underwear for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," dancing with his backup dancers in a part of the stage made to look like a prison shower where things literally got steamy.
But what really made Lil Nas X's performance powerful wasn't the spectacle of it all, but an important message it sent.
Nas X invited Madrequs Harris, the Director of Community Investments at the Southern AIDS Coalition, to be with him on stage. Harris was there, dressed in an all-black prison uniform with "433 816" printed in red on the back. The number represents just how many people there are living with HIV in the South.