Hey its OG ILLA. Owner and Program Director at theMSQshop and I want to preface this article with some context. Prop or HoodxBuddha is a long time friend and an artist under my label, HLGNLIFE Records. We speak daily and often have very thought provoking dialogue about everything from music to finances to family and more.
When Lil Nas X dropped his latest music video for his single "Montero" it really took trolling to a new level and what seemed like a dramatic attempt to re-capture his momentum with "Old Town Road" it was even more controversy surrounding this visual.
I will be honest, I didn't watch the video at first, I saw clips/screenshots on my timeline and was more than aware that it wasn't for me. Fast forward, I made a post that said something like "Yall let Lil Nas get yall upset?" and I meant it. I know trolling when I see it.
But later that day I received a very well thought out and detailed text from Prop about the video and what it meant to her as a Lesbia/someone who is obviously part of the LGTBQ community. Myself, being a non-christian, straight white male, couldn't necessarily understand the depth as much as her when it came to the impact directly affecting my life.
So, instead of debating her, I listened, and I told her to share her opinion/feelings via THIS editorial and to channel her thoughts. And that leads us to the article you are bout to read.
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Since the beginning of time, creatives continue to advance culture by challenging societal norms. Controversial pieces of art are often a form of self-expression that influences self-reflection within its observer. And while this often leads to discomfort, as growth most commonly requires, what happens when the intent behind the art is ego-driven financial gain?
Lil Nas X has again stormed our timelines following the video for his latest single “Montero” and MSCHF sneaker collaboration oddly named “Satan Shoes.” While social media continues to debate over artistry versus agendas, I can’t help but wonder if X’s latest antics will do more harm than good.
It’s 2010, and I am in Colonial Heights, Virginia, paying a traffic fine. As I patiently wait in line with my then-girlfriend, we platonically discuss random current events. The only reason anyone would assume that we were together is that I am a masculine-presenting woman. Randomly, a stranger taps me on the shoulder and asks, “Can I tell you something?”. Thinking she is adding to our random conversation, she begins to preach that we will go to hell if we did not change our ways. There were no public displays of affection that would have led her to believe we were even a couple.
Fast forward another couple of months, and I attend church with this same partner. She grew up in an Apostolic church that highly frowns upon homosexuality. Already uncomfortable, I agree to take part in a service with her in hopes that the church would exhibit the foundational values of Christianity: love, acceptance, and lack of judgment. Immediately upon our entrance, the preacher notices us and changes his entire sermon. Now I had to sit through two hours of hate speech about the devil and his homosexual demons in the church that day.
There are countless incidents I could provide to explain why it has been a relief to not hear “gay” and “hell” in the same sentence over the last couple of years. It has been a blessing to connect with God without the fear of some large demon man coming to torture me for eternity just because I fell in love with a woman. Until now…
As I watch numerous heterosexuals criticize those offended by Lil Nas X’s video, it feels similar to when non-melanated beings speak on black issues. How would you know the damage caused by this when you will never have to face the consequences or suffering?
While many suggest Lil Nas X is simply throwing many Christian’s prejudice in their face and praise him for creativity, I see this as the least creative thing he could’ve done this year.
There is nothing more cliche than associating homosexuality with hell. In my opinion, this was an opportunity to change the narrative. X had the platform to show that all good people with a good heart can ascend and become one with God regardless of their differences, and he failed.
And yes, I know he kills the devil at the end but let’s not skip over the part where he puts on the horns and becomes the devil himself……..
More importantly, his response to critics thus far has been his typical trolling fashion. The “Satan Shoes”, in my opinion, is also a distasteful effort to troll critics. I have seen nothing that would benefit those who battle with their sexuality or educate those with homophobic ideologies. What I have seen are a bunch of laughs and potential paychecks coming his way. So, I resurface the question, what happens when the intent behind the art is ego-driven financial gain?
When I think about this moment in music history, I think of the countless people I know randomly attacked on the street because they APPEARED to be homosexual. I think of the couples that are too afraid to hold hands to avoid being harassed. I think of the dominant partners who only want to protect their homes and the queens that fear what may happen whenever they leave their nest of safety.
In a recent trauma training, we discussed the differences between impact and intention. In trauma-informed care, we must first consider those impacted by our decisions. The second step is to take accountability when our actions cause harm.
Lil Nas X’s creative vision is his own, but he must be more conscious of his actions and impact when addressing group issues. And whether he realizes it or not, speaking on and portraying LGBT issues as a whole, impacts the group, and not just his personal experience.
Art should first serve self, then the people. Without both, it can be just another toy for the ego. And I can guarantee you those paychecks aren’t worth your soul.
WRITTEN BY PROP