Lil Nas X: From Nicki Stan to ‘Industry Baby’

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July 26, 2021
Read Time: 3 minutes

There’s no stopping Montero Lamar Hill

 

 

Back in 2019, Lil Nas X launched a thousand TikToks that used Old Town Road and gave birth to the Yee Yee Challenge. The track picked up and gained traction in 2019, thus prompting a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus that further catapulted him into stardom. Critics were easy to call him a one-hit-wonder with how he clung onto Old Town Road for a while. But instead of dismissing him, that should have been considered evidence that the rapper had a unique mastery of the internet.

 

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Many have linked the singer to an old Nicki Minaj stan account, and he denied these allegations until 2020. He may have put Tweetdecking and creating Twitter scenarios behind him, but Lil Nas X still uses tips from the Twitter user playbook to promote his music. One example of this is trolling everyone with a fake apology video for his Satanic Shoes, which ends up being a plug for the Montero (Call Me By Your Name) music video. Lil Nas X managed to weave the internet’s knack for controversy and humor to promote and defend his new single. His own version of a Rickroll, if you will.

 

 

The same thing could be said with how he rolled out Industry Baby, the second single from his coming album Montero. Much like what he did earlier this year, the rapper hinged on controversies surrounding him: his sexual orientation and his Satan Shoes that got brought to court. In a click-bait title called [WATCH LIVE] Nike v. Lil Nas X – Satan Shoes Trial, Lil Nas X premiered the prelude video to Industry Baby featuring a fictional trial where he was given a jail sentence just for being gay.

 

The video reveals Jack Harlow as a featuring artist, and its producers are Take A Daytrip and dear ol’ Kanye West. In the video, he plays multiple roles and different characters, which is kind of reminiscent of Vine and TikTok skits that feature one creator taking on different characters. From the build-up Tweets to the video’s ending credits, it’s so visible that Lil Nas X has spent years doing what he does. He’s trolled users and baited people to engage before he drops the punchline and pushes the message that matters the most. And he’s done it successfully. Everyone could put two-and-two together that this was one smart marketing ploy they were ready to get behind.

 

 

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Even if he was criticized for making a mockery of prison, which widely affects African-Americans, Lil Nas X made sure to attach a cause to it. The music video also doubles as a fundraiser for the Bail Project, a non-profit organization from the United States whose mission is to end cash bail. This is seen as one of the drivers of mass incarceration and structural racism in the United States’ legal system. “On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family. And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the Black community. ” Lil Nas X tweets as he encourages his fans to donate as well.

 

By the time Industry Baby’s official music video dropped, Lil Nas X shut the critics up who called him a “one-hit-wonder” or an “industry plant,” because it’s obvious that he’s far from that. He built his following from scratch and managed to keep everyone interested. How? By putting out good music and being the person to help “open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.

 

After his year-long hiatus following 7 EP, he’s now locked, loaded and ready to serve hits again. And he’s going to do it his way, with advocacies, discourse and self-expression as part of his music. He’s embracing his femininity and breaking toxic stereotypes in rap and hip-hop, all the while using his platform for important causes as an Industry Baby.

 

 

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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