Lil Nas X definitely is not backing down from stirring up controversy. After a series of sexually provocative videos and TV appearances that found him lap-dancing Satan, soul-kissing a man on national TV, and splitting the crotch of his pants on “Saturday Night Live” (okay, that last one was an accident), he’s actually stripped down — intentionally this time — in the jail-themed video for his new song “Industry Baby.”
While the clip is intentionally playful and comically sexually themed, Nas knows that jail is no joke and announced, along with the video’s release, that he is teaming up with the Bail Project to help end cash bail in the U.S.
The song was co-produced by Kanye West — who publicly premiered, and then failed to release, his new album “Donda” on Thursday night, but that’s a different controversy — and the video continues the theme Nas started with “Sun Goes Down,” which was an encouraging letter to his teen self. After a parodic preview video earlier this week where the rapper was on trial before Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (portrayed by Nas) for being gay, this one finds him serving out a sentence in the fictional Montero State Prison. It comes with a letter to his 20-year-old self, addressing the confusion he’d felt in the wake of the record-smashing success of his first single, “Old Town Road.”
“Dear 20 year old Montero,
“I wrote a song for us. I know sometimes you feel like it’s all downhill from here. I know your sexuality has made you feel like an outcast amongst your peers. I know going from having the biggest song in the world to being trapped in your apartment is weighing heavy on you. And I know if you hear the phrase ‘one hit wonder’ one more time you might combust. But I need you to keep going. I need you to realize that you have the opportunity to be the person that you needed growing up. I need you to stop feeling sorry for yourself. And I need you to remember that the only person who has to believe in YOU is YOU.” — lnx.”
The video, based on a story by Lil Nas X and directed by Christian Breslauer, follows a loose theme slightly reminiscent of the film “The Shawshank Redemption” as Nas escapes from prison, although he seems to be having so much fun there it’s hard to imagine why: He’s fondling his dancers throughout the clip — including a hilarious nude dance scene in the shower with everyone’s privates pixilated — and even guest rapper Jack Harlow gets in on the action, although with a female dancer.
The song is the latest to be released from Nas’ forthcoming debut full-length album “Montero,” due “later this year” on Columbia Records.
Lil Nas X has also announced that he has joined forces with The Bail Project, a national nonprofit organization on a mission to end cash bail, one of the key drivers of mass incarceration and structural racism in the U.S. criminal legal system. Through the “Bail X Fund,” he hopes to encourage other artists to join him and The Bail Project in the fight to end cash bail. Lil Nas X himself has made a starting donation, Jack Harlow is jumping in to help as well, and fans are invited to donate with them. All donations go directly into The Bail Project’s national revolving bail fund to pay people’s bails. To date, The Bail Project has posted over $47M in free bail assistance for over 17,000 low-income people across the country.
They also provide post-release support through court reminders, free transportation, and voluntary referrals for housing, substance use treatment, and other services based on a person’s needs. Lil Nas X says this isn’t just theoretical for him. “It’s personal. I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family. And I know the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on Black Americans and the LGBTQ community. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.” For more information and to donate to the Bail X Fund, please visit bailxfund.com.