Over the last week, Lil Nas X has claimed on Twitter and TikTok that he might actually go to jail because of a Nike-led lawsuit over his limited-edition Satan shoes. You remember those, right? They’re the the demonic spoofed Air Maxes—you know, the ones with a literal drop of literal human blood in the soles—that he released with the brand MSCHF this past spring. He’s been tossing out the hashtags #FREELILNASX and #NikevLilNasX in anticipation of an ill-omened court date. But of course, as Lil Nas X (playing a coiffed-up prosecutor in a fictionalized Supreme Court trial) says to Lil Nas X (playing himself as a defendant) in a corresponding promo clip the musician posted this week, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is about much more than shoes.”
Isn’t it always?
In fact, Nike and MSCHF settled the suit months ago, so: no, Lil Nas X won’t actually be going to court. The only trial happening is the aforementioned fictional one, which is also, in standard Lil Nas practice, promotional: tomorrow, on July 23, the musician (and perhaps one of the most deft self-promoters Gen Z has ever known) is dropping a new single titled “Industry Baby,” which he has already anointed as “MY NEW SMASH HIT” via his Twitter bio. The full-length music video for the track, which will feature Jack Harlow and was co-produced by Take a Daytrip and a supposedly album-ready Kanye West, will apparently take place months after the events in the trolling promo clip. (A refresher: defendant Lil Nas, who was born Montero Lamar Hill, is sentenced to five years in “Montero State Prison” not because of the IP-biting shoes, but for being gay.)
Since coming out in June 2019, while “Old Town Road” was still riding out its historic Billboard reign, Lil Nas has maintained a biting sense of humor about his sexuality, interspersed with a few deeply tender moments of introspection and vulnerability. In the lead-up to his March 2021 single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”—his second number-one Billboard hit since “Old Town Road”—he posted a Notes app letter addressed to his 14-year-old self, writing, “i know we promised to never come out publicly, i know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, i know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.” In similar fashion, yesterday Lil Nas tweeted another note to his 20-year-old self (he is currently 22), assuring him that “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.”
He continued: “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.” Like he said: it’s about much more than the shoes.