Lil Nas X may be the greatest Trojan Horse of the last few thousand years.
After making a giant splash with “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X found himself embraced by the music industry at large, including the country sector. And how does he follow up such a chart-topping song, one that saw such massive success people wrote him off immediately as a one-hit wonder?
By giving fans the gay fantasias of their dreams.
First there was “Montero” and its accompanying, lawsuit-inspiring music video. Then there were the Saturday Night Live and BET Awards performances, equal parts sex and sass. And now he’s following up the success of “Montero” (and his own proud proclamation that he’s a power bottom—with “Industry Baby,” putting on blast all the people who had confidently slotted him into a safe filing cabinet.
Featuring Jack Harlow (at pains to make sure we know he’s not as gay as Lil Nas X), “Industry Baby” finds Lil Nas X and his ripped backup dancers twerking naked in a prison shower; rocking pink jumpsuits; and in general making prison seem like a gay porno idyll.
Adhering to the adage “be the change you want to see,” Lil Nas X is refusing to play by the industry’s rules or even by the general guidelines for musicians. He’s in charge of his image as thoroughly as Taylor Swift, but he’s doing it in true Gen Z fashion by winking at us while we salivate over the narrative he’s concocting in real time. That he’s doing it as a solo act, and as a Black man, is everything you need to know about courage and about the trampling of gatekeepers in a post-2020 world. People will complain; “Old Town Road” fans will express outrage; and through it all Lil Nas X will flash his abs like Madonna, as much a thirsttrap as he is a trailblazing entrepreneur.
That’s a reason to get hard.