Lil Nas X is flipping the hip hop script and popular music in general on its ear. In recent months, hip hop’s historically homophobic content has had to make way for this queer artist, yes homo!
The anti-gay slur, “No Homo” came about in the 90’s Hip Hop scene and was used by hip hop artists in their music to negate any impressions the artists might supposedly gave of being homosexual, due to the use of a lyric that might be inadvertently considered to be gay.
Like this charming slice of a Jay-Z song from 2009 called Run This Town and uttered by Kanye West, “It’s crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow to everybody on your dick—no homo.”
In the latest example of the toxic and homophobic behaviour employed by some performers in the hip hop industry, Grammy nominated rapper, DaBaby, recently performed a set at music festival Rolling Loud.
Backlash began to build when a video of his performance at the festival shows him addressing the crowd, saying “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cell phone lighter up,” he said. “Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cell phone lighter up.”
(1/5) We've been shocked to read about the HIV misinformation and homophobic statements made at a recent DaBaby show. This fuels stigma and discrimination and is the opposite of what our world needs to fight the AIDS epidemic.
The facts are: pic.twitter.com/MqCv3vWiz2
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) July 28, 2021
No Hiding Anymore
But Lil Nas X, real name Montero Lamar Hill from Georgia, USA, is part of a new generation of artists from many different genres who are no longer willing to hide who they truly are. They have showed us some truly evocative art in the process, with this latest video for his recently released single, Industry Baby really turning up the heat.
And oh yes, if we thought the video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name) was hot stuff and enough to get conservative voices clutching their pearls – this new video is gonna boil your kettle!
With pixelated pee-pees flying about in a naked dancing shower scene, and all sorts of evocative imagery designed to make you think about tunnels and holes and such, the film clip for this song… wait there’s a song?! – was enough to make some actually search for any possible un-pixelated pee-pee versions – 6.8 million in fact!
— nope 👶🏾 (@LilNasX) July 23, 2021
Which is the number of views on the YouTube video released by Lil Nas X himself entitled: INDUSTRY BABY (Uncensored Video) – including one view for this article (RESEARCH).
— nope 👶🏾 (@LilNasX) July 28, 2021
Lil Nas X hit the music scene in 2019 with his hit single Old Town Road, which went viral on TikTok and spawned a number of remixes, including the most popular version with Billy Ray Cyrus. He followed that up at the beginning of 2021 with the debut of the lead single from his upcoming album Montero! All this impressive noise and the album hasn’t even been released yet!
Nas X came out publicly on Twitter at the height of his Old Town Road fame in 2019 and the revelation certainly did nothing to dim the light of this talented and boundary pushing artist. And, as his offerings have become more and more risqué, the volume of his supporters get louder, drowning out the dimming protests from the predictable conservative corners of society.
First off, it was his performance on Saturday Night Live of Call Me By Your Name in May that got them going – where his glistening, oiled up body writhed about on stage with crotch grabbing, pant splitting glory and then pushing boundaries even further at the BET awards in June when he finished that same song with a pash with one of his male dancers, while dressed as a pharaoh.
But while he seems to be enjoying pushing boundaries, it’s all for a reason.
When he released Montero (Call Me By Your Name), Lil Nas X gave a hint as to his purpose, with an open letter to his 14 year old self on Twitter, saying, “I know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret,” he wrote.
“But this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist”
“People will be angry. They will say I am pushing an agenda. But the truth is: I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”
— nope 👶🏾 (@LilNasX) March 26, 2021
Queer Artists Who Came Before
Even though queer artists are being shown more love and acceptance than ever before, the hard won wins are fleeting and the importance of artists like Lil Nas X being loud and proud with their lives and loves can not be understated, lest queer artists be forgotten and the wins lost.
Nor can it be forgotten that there were queer curious artists who came before – they were never given the freedom to express themselves honestly because they were born in the decades that didn’t accept their true queerness, forcing them to hide in a tragic closet, even if they bravely came out and were later forced back in.
David Bowie famously came out in 1972, telling Melody Magazine he was “gay, and always have been”. In 1976, he said to Playboy Magazine, “It’s true—I am a bisexual.” He perhaps later regretted coming out at all, mentioning in a 2002 interview with Blender magazine, “I knew what I wanted to be, which was a songwriter and a performer, and I felt that [bisexuality] became my headline over here for so long. America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do.”
Add other famous artists from the same era to the list including Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, Elton John and then later, George Michael.
George Michael, after being caught at a beat in a Los Angeles toilet block, subsequently released a song Outside and a provocative (for the times) video of his own, taking back his power and opening that closet door a little wider for today’s artists to beat down – giving us a glimpse through their bedroom doors at the same time.