Lil Nas X’s defiant pride is essential to hip-hop — and the dabi debacle is one reason


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.

“I don’t usually respond to negativity from my peers. But it had to be said,” the rapper said on twitterLet it speak for itself, sharing a link to your own music video.

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.

Little Richard, who rose to fame in 1950s, often wearing makeup and pioneering high-falsetto, camp performances. sylvester, a disco, R&B and soul singer known for his bisexual appearance. Prince, who never indicated that he was not heterosexual, took cues from both him and others like him, overturning gender norms and helping to pave the way beyond the set ideals of masculinity in the industry.

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.

lil nas x joe came out The 20-year-old is different to the world, as he doesn’t hide any element of his identity – not in his music, not in his social media presence or in his live performances.
There are other contemporary black musicians who have challenged gender norms or come out in the limelight. Frank Ocean released his first album, “Chanel Orange,” and . but sung about a male love interest open About that sexuality in 2012. Tyler, the creator, comfortably wears wigs and dresses in the performance. Lil Nas X even thanked him for making it easier for him to be where he is.

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.

On Monday, DaBaby shared a detailed apologies For hurtful comments and misinformation about HIV/AIDS. His note suggested that he needed people to be educated “with kindness”.

“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.

His apology came after the concerts he was to perform at, including Lollapalooza and the Governors Ball Music Festival, Canceled your attendance. Austin City Limits, iHeartRadio Music Festival and Music Midtown canceled their scheduled appearances shortly thereafter.

“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.

In addition to promoting his own projects, Lil Nas X also uses social media to uplift others, retweet fan And motivational follower With his open personality. His music videos and tweets are playful, a perfect example of the kind of humor he has perfected. He is an artist who thrives on provocation and subverting expectations with utter disregard for those who don’t get it. All those traits, above all his self-confidence, are what enrage his enemies – and make him a fan favorite.
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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.”

And after “Industry Baby” started Let the Undo Continue, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on Monday.

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