His new video "Industry Baby" promises he's not going anywhere any time soon
It's here! It's queer! Not the Kanye album — that seems to be in the wind — but something better: the new Lil Nas X song.
After a masterful promotional rollout which had fans thinking Lil Nas X could be going to jail for his Satan Shoes collaboration with Brooklyn creative brand, MSCHF — an agent of chaos whose MO matches their name.
The drama around the shoes culminated in a lawsuit from Nike, outrage from far-right religious leaders, and very entertaining Tweets from Lil Nas X, par for the course.
Though the original lawsuit with Nike was only with MSCHF, Lil Nas X recently resurfaced the drama when he started tweeting about going to court. The hashtag #FreeLilNasX was trending on Twitter, and fans tuned in on Monday July 19th to watch what they thought was a livestream of the court case.
Instead, Lil Nas X used the fervor he had built to promote the release of his new song, "Industry Baby." The song is stacked: produced by Take A Daytrip and Kanye West (so we did get one Kanye release, I guess, though no news of Donda) and featuring Jack Harlow.
The promotional video is a fictionalized court case (so it wasn't really a lie) that follows the drama of the Satan Shoes. It responds to many of the comments made against Lil Nas X at the time of the shoe debacle, many of which also mentioned his music video for "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)."
So much of the criticism of "MONTERO" was thinly veiled homophobia — and in some cases it wasn't veiled at all. The promo video for "Industry Baby" pulls back the curtain and satirizes a sentencing in which his character is sent to jail for being gay.
The "Industry Baby" video was released on July 23rd to much anticipation, jumping right in after the timeline of the promo video.
Lil Nas X - INDUSTRY BABY (Prelude) www.youtube.com
It shows Lil Nas X in the fictionalized Montero State Prison, dressed in a pink jumpsuit and bejeweled grills. The video is unabashedly queer and gloriously camp, taking us on a ride the way only Lil Nas X can.
In his signature, narrative style, the elaborate storyline mixed with dramatic dance numbers come together to create a visual journey that feels part Shawshank Redemption and part 2000s era Beyonce music video.
And if that wasn't enough, it really might be White Boy Summer as Jack Harlow, self-professed "white boy with a little habanero," gives the appropriate amount of chaotic energy needed for a Lil Nas X video.
There's also a cameo from Colton Haynes, gay heartthrob, who plays the prison's Head of Security in a scene where he is so distracted watching the "MONTERO" video he doesn't notice the mass prison break (honestly, same).
Every scene in the video is carefully considered and delivers a thought provoking commentary about masculinity and queerness, as well as a heavy dose of entertainment. Who else would deliver unto us the juxtaposition of a prison weightlifting scene and a naked dance number in a shower?
And beyond the gimmicks and the campy galore, the song is affirming of marginalized groups while challenging the status quo. "Baby back, couple racks," he raps about his success. "Couple Grammys on him, couple plaques," he continues, showing off his accolades at the haters.
But it's not just about the trappings of success. With Lil Nas X, it's always about actually saying something meaningful — and then doing something about it. For one, the "Industry Baby" video isalso a fundraising campaign, which has already raised thousands of dollars for The Bail Project, per its prison theme and the recent conversations about the prison industrial complex.
It's also a reminder not to shrink yourself for the approval of people who won't ever approve of you. "Tell then I ain't laying low," he sings, squaring his shoulders in challenge, while also creating the space for anyone else to shamelessly claim themselves too.
Watch the full video here:
Lil Nas X, Jack Harlow - INDUSTRY BABY (Official Video) www.youtube.com