Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” music video is a joyful celebration of queerness in hip-hop, packaged in a tongue-in-cheek prison break story.
After sliding down a stripper pole to Hell, giving Satan a lap dance and then taking his crown, Lil Nas X left some wondering what else he might do to keep fans coming back for more.
In. response, Lil Nas X says, “hold my Grammy”, and comes out guns blazing (literally, if you count the amount of shirtless screen time).
Sticking to his trend of movie-like music videos, Industry Baby manages to present an engaging, fully realised story in only three minutes and 55 seconds.
wow this is insane. this is the most i’ve ever had in my career. thank u to everybody listening. 🤍 https://t.co/JbCmp8QFN3
— nope 👶🏾 (@LilNasX) August 10, 2021
The unofficial king of social media hype released the music video to much fanfare after posting on social media before the release that he was “facing court”.
On his supposed “court date”, he released a promo video of a court case where he was sentenced (bb himself as judge, jury and lawyer) to jail for being gay, as the opening riff of Industry Baby plays.
The music video begins at the end of the court case before jumping forward to Lil Nas X in Montero State Prison.
The story, written by Lil Nas X himself, tracks the musician orchestrating a Shawshank Redemption-esque prison break, culminating in the triumphant escape of all inmates.
Lil Nas X brings the drama, sass and humour to a well thought out story, reminding fans and critics alike that it’s their outrage and shock that’s paved his rise to the top.
Dressed in a hot pink prison uniform, or sometimes dressed in nothing at all, Lil Nas seems to be giving a big middle finger to his haters, and fans are here for it.
Flashing a cheeky grin, Lil Nas X throws his dumbbells and flicks his wrist as he reminds the audience what he’s been trying to tell them for two years now: he’s here, he’s queer—so get used to it.
Industry Baby comes at a time when the hip-hop and rap genres stand at a crossroads; rapper Dababy recently received backlash for homophobic remarks onstage at a show.
Meanwhile, Lil Nas X is rising through the charts and becoming a household name with music videos that don’t shy away from his sexuality.
Unsurprisingly, Industry Baby hasn’t been able to keep clear of further controversy given its overt celebration of queer Black men, but Lil Nas X seems unfazed.
The video flips the script of fully clothed male hip-hop artists surrounded by half-naked women entirely, with Lil Nas X as naked as the rest of his entourage in a slick choreographed shower scene that celebrates a new type of masculinity.
Industry Baby is a bright, cheeky masterclass in queering often-homophobic spaces, something Lil Nas X has done time and time again as he blazes through genres in his diverse back catalogue.
Every choice from scripting to lighting and even costume design feels carefully and deliberately chosen.
Even the hot pink of the prison uniforms, contrasting against a setting often portrayed as hyper-masculine, feels subversive and like a direct hit back against the boxes audiences have tried to put him in.
Fans will be keeping a close eye on what the artist does next and, given his track record, will be hoping to see more of his artistry grace their YouTube recommendations soon as his upcoming album Montero nears release.
Lil Nas X is here to stay, and he’s making sure the world knows about it.
Lil Nas X has paired with the Bail Project to create the Bail X Fund alongside his new music video, to help pay bails and combat mass incarceration and structural racism in the US.)