Lil Nas X: the blasphemous gay rapper who reigns supreme in Gen Z

  • The star who has made trolling an effective ‘marketing’ tool is in the top-5 of all the charts

  • Black and queer, he refuses to become an activist and even criticizes “internalized misogyny in the LGTBI collective”

With a careful aesthetic, a congruent theme and a somewhat shy performance, Lil Nas X jumped into the public arena in 2018 with his debut, ‘Old Town Road’, a self-produced single that was an instant hit in virtually everyone, including Spain. Framed at the height of the movement of reappropriation of country – a cultural archetype of big white men – towards a more queer, feminist and black movement, the issue swept. And yet, many music critics did not hesitate to label the rapper a ‘one-track star’, thinking his phenomenon would quickly deflate.

But if we compare to Lil Nas X of 2021 with that very young rapper who faced stardom with modesty and some modesty, we would have that feeling of ‘and who are you?’ when, after a while without seeing a friend’s son, we find that he has become a teenager who no longer wants to be at the children’s table.

Four years after its debut, Lil Nas X Not only does he have two Grammys behind him and millions of followers on all his social networks, but he also has been involved in dozens of controversies, complaints, accusations of Satanism and threats of cancellation. So it has shown that, in addition to the little eye of those who labeled it a one-night stand, it is a new mass phenomenon.

From shy to troll

The change in attitude between the reserved artist and his current and risky troll facet occurred after his coming out of the closet and the shower of opinions that he generated, from those who wanted to delegitimize their relevance to the rap and hip-hop movement to those who, or doubted his sexuality and exposed it as a ‘marketing’ strategy, or expected from him an activism for being black and queer that he did not want to offer (for example, in a famous tweet he said: “I like penises. There is no other deeper reading “).

Out of sheer satiety, Lil Nas X decided to live his sexuality in a public and histrionic way, which was demonstrated in his second number one, ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name’), where he did ‘pole dancing’ with a bar that took him to hell and beat Satan. The ultra-conservative reaction was brutal (neo-Nazi groups pointed this out), and even got involved in a legal process with Nike for selling some sneakers tuned with satanic motifs and human blood whose distribution the brand had not authorized and which they were boycotting “for promoting the queer satanism. “

Deaf ears to reproach

But, in addition, the passive attitude towards any moral reproach with which he promoted the single worsened the reaction of the ‘haters’, who incessantly demanded his censorship. The cancellation attempt was such that, in the face of YouTube’s insinuations to remove the content, it assured that it would directly post the video clip on PornHub.

Since then, this troll strategy has characterized his career. To promote his ‘hit’ ‘Industry Baby’, which is currently in the top 5 of all lists, he promised to upload to YouTube the “uncensored” version of his video clip, in which he presents an erotic scene with several prisoners in a jail. The result is a post where, at the exact moment you step into the showers, the playback freezes. More than 17 million have already fallen for the trap. “You’re a marketing genius,” the frustrated ‘voyeurs’ repeat.

The vast majority of headlines that surround him orbit around the lack of filters with which he shows his sexuality. For example, as a result of the single ‘Thats What I Want’, a journalist baptized him as a pioneer by “coming out of the closet as a liability”, of which he laughed, assuring that he only liked to receive anal sex, “and that’s it” . An uproar that, however, allowed him to speak, in a more serious tone, of the “internalized misogyny in the LGTBI collective”, which rejects the “supposedly female sexual role.”

Inability to apologize

On the podcast of ‘The New York Times Still Processing’, they spoke in detail about this public attitude of Lil Nas X and what they define as a before and after in a hobby that celebrities like so much: asking for forgiveness. From Justin Timberlake until James Charles, the vast majority of celebrities have gone through their time Juan Carlos I and they have intoned the “I’m very sorry; I was wrong and it will not happen again.” But the ‘centennial’ rapper has turned this trend around.

In the now iconic video where he ironically apologized to Nike, he not only refused to give them, but also promoted his single. Again, he used as a ‘marketing’ strategy a trolling to all those who expected to see a repentant Lil Nas X whipping himself for being a person openly gay, very sexual and deeply blasphemous.

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This controversial way of being receives an inversely proportional amount of praise from its young fans and criticism from its older detractors. Generation Z does not hesitate to elevate it. At the end of the day, he is a person who has made his way among the general public embodying the meme that most represents the attitude of the ‘centennials’ towards life: against the screams, speeches and moral lessons of the ‘boomers’, drop a “lol ok”. Because no, neither he nor his peers believe that they owe explanations to anyone.

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Lil Nas X: the blasphemous gay rapper who reigns supreme in Gen Z