Lil Nas X continues to be a rising star in the music industry, despite facing controversy, homophobia and racism.
By Remy Zerber
Lil Nas X has become a cultural icon ever since his hit song “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus. Some people don’t like him because he does very controversial things like dance nude in his music videos, or pretend to be pregnant even though he is male. He just released his first album titled Montero and it is doing pretty good, considering it debuted at number two on the Billboard album chart. Lil Nas X is quickly rising to fame and becoming a cultural icon in many ways.
Despite Lil Nas X being a rapper who is new to the music industry, he is very good at marketing himself. In one of his music videos, “That’s What I Want” he plays a football player, which is a smart marketing move because a lot of people like football, so this appeals to a certain masculine audience. Then in the same music video he kissed a guy while in a football uniform. This angered many people because of homophobia, but simultaneously markets himself to a LGBT+ audience.
Even with his good marketing, Lil Nas X is extremely controversial for many different reasons. For one thing, and most obviously, he is gay and people are homophobic. Another controversy of his is his music video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name), because he pole-dances with Satan and then steals his crown. Critics say this is inappropriate for children. His other controversy is about shoes he sold to promote the music video. Lil Nas X calls the shoes “Satan Shoes”, which are modified Nike Air Max 97s containing “one drop of human blood” in their soles. They are a collaboration with the streetwear label MSCHF, retailing for $1,018 and sellingout in under a minute when they launched. The backlash heightened because some people, mainly Republicans, think that this is “devil worship.”
Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, said: “This is outrageous, disgusting and perverted and on #PalmSunday no less. Somehow Lil Nas X thinks that Satanic worship should be mainstream and normal. I don’t think there have been better candidates to cancel than Lil Nas X and these shoes,” and claimed that the shoes prove the US is “in a fight for the soul of our nation.”Lil Nas X took the criticism well and defended his song by saying, “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay. So I hope you are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.” In the end, he had the last laugh because his song became the highest trending music video on YouTube.
Lil Nas X’s clothes and costumes are controversial too. He made a clothing line that makes fun of the controversy about the shoes he sold. He designed and sold three different t-shirts. One t-shirt said “I [Heart] Jesus” in big bold letters in the style of “I [Heart] NY” shirts. It had a message in much smaller font that said “and that one part in the ‘Montero’ music video by Lil Nas X when he gets nasty with the devil because it was a cool form of self-expression and art.” This shirt comes in black and white. Another shirt said “I watched the ‘Montero’ video by Lil Nas X and all I got was this lousy shirt and now I’m also gay and love Satan,” with little icon images of Lil Nas X and Satan from the music video along the sides of the text.
As a result of the music industry being homophobic, Lil Nas X has faced homophobia and tried to combat it several times. Last Halloween when he dressed up as Nikki Minaj, Rapper 50 Cent tweeted, "what the f---, Nikki come get him !!! Lol." Another person tweeted "How much money u think Lil nas x is being paid to destroy the minds of young black kids to go against their God?”. In response to this tweet, Lil Nas X tweeted "yes because ur child is gonna say 'lil nas x dressed up as nicki minaj so why should i worship god anymore.'" Lil Nas X is quick to shut down homophobia on social media, and works at normalizing Black gay people in the media. For example, in his music video for “That’s What I Want,” there is a lot of Black and queer representation. Clearly, Lil Nas X is a genius and is becoming a cultural icon. While he has angered many people with his first album, Montero, (because most people are either homophobic or think he is making inappropriate content for kids), he has risen above the criticism. Lil Nas X is dominating the music industry despite the odds being against him.
Melanie Moyer '22,