It’s the most evocative moment in the video for Musical Wonderkind’s latest hit single, “Industry Baby,” a song that chronicles her rise to the top and raises a dizzy middle finger to her detractors.
The video provoked extreme reactions: some liked it for its catchy, trumpet-heavy melody and focus on a smiling and glowing Lil Nas X. But others were outraged by the gay, Grammy Award-winning pop star for being insulted with the homosexuality of the video. . Homophobic backlash erupted on social media — and it didn’t stop there.
In the face of it all, Lil Nas X does what it does best: double down and tweet.
Lil Nas X’s indifferent commitment to its identity becomes even more necessary in the wake of DaBaby’s comments. He has proven that he is not successful despite his sexuality – he is successful because he embraces it. In the process, He is building a new space for the future of LGBTQ musicians to express themselves without limits.
Lil Nas X is building on the foundation laid by other black and queer musicians
Lil Nas X isn’t the first black person to challenge gender norms in the music industry.
“Lil Nas X is absolutely vital, but he’s also based heavily on the history of other Black, queer and queer-adjacent artists who walked so he could run,” said Alfred Martin, communications professor at the University of Iowa. Black and Queer Media Studies.
Even as changing gender norms in the arts grew more mainstream, many queer musicians still sought to set some boundaries between their professional and personal identities, in order to overcome open discrimination. can do It was often easier not to be 100% open about every aspect of their sexuality.
But pushing the boundaries has always been a major distinguishing feature for rap, said Matthew Oware, a professor of sociology at the University of Richmond who researches race and gender identities in pop culture.
It goes back to earlier rappers, including explicit language, content and controversial political statements, as heard in “F*** Tha Police” by the NWA.
“There is still a general feeling that this type of rapper, a gay, male rapper, is not representative of masculinity,” Oware said. “What Lil Nas X is doing upping the ex is no different than what we see of a stereotypical, heterosexual rapper upping the ex in their songs.”
In videos for both Lil Nas X and DaBaby, the rapper performs shirtless, sings about sex and talks about his successes. But Lil Nas gets backlash more often because of what he represents to X.
“Queerness in general, but Black queerness in particular, still serves as such a scarlet letter to many people who want to work within the media and culture industries,” Martin said. It’s hard to accept queer artists.
It shows the way many rappers defended Dabi’s comments, while the response mainly came from people outside the genre, Martin said. For a long time, black queerness was used exclusively in the media as a joke, Martin said, and it’s hard for people deeply immersed in the rap world to break out of that mindset.
“As someone who has had to make my way through very difficult situations, there are people I publicly work against me – knowing that I need education and guidance on these topics – has been challenging. ,” his apology said.
“At this particular moment, we have DaBaby saying these really uninformed things about HIV/AIDS – but because of all the work that these other artists were able to do, we get to see this swift expulsion of DaBaby ,” said Martin.
Creating a Future for LGBTQ Creators in the Music Industry
Martin and Oware said that Lil Nas X’s waves of success may not immediately line up black creators in the music industry. Lil Nas X is the first star of its kind – Black, Gay, Genre-Bending, Gen Z and award winning.
Over time, the success of Lil Nas X could open up more record companies to signing more black, LGBTQ musicians, Martin said.
“The issue with being first is often that the first also becomes the last for a really long time,” Martin said. “Black queerness lately has become really legible as something other than a punchline. There’s a lot of work to undo that needs to be done. And Lil Nas X could be part of that undo.”