He may be a bop-producing provocateur, but Lil Nas X also believes pearl-clutching should be equal opportunity. Case in point: on Wednesday, the rapper, who earned both headlines and the ire of Nike earlier this year with the release of a limited-edition line of customized Air Max 97s containing a drop of human blood, dared to call out the double standard in another blood-fueled drop.
As previously reported by The Root, the sneakers were produced with MSCHF in tandem with the release of the single and video for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” Dubbed “Satan Shoes” (following the streetwear brand’s previous drop of holy water-filled “Jesus Shoes”), the run of 666 pairs also referenced a Bible passage on the fall of Satan. While the more Christian-minded among us predictably took offense, it was an obvious publicity stunt and one for which Nike demanded—and won—a recall. However, another blood-fueled publicity stunt was met with no such outrage, as reported by Canada’s ETalk:
[Lil Nas X], who is Black and openly gay, was heavily criticized for his Satan Shoes. Just this week, professional skateboarder and straight white man Tony Hawk released a limited-edition skateboard painted with his blood and sold out in minutes with little to no criticism. Lil Nas X noticed the vast difference in reactions to the two launches and is calling out those who previously criticized him and have been silent about Hawk’s new product.
“[N]ow that tony hawk has released skateboards with his blood painted on them, and there was no public outrage, are y’all ready to admit y’all were never actually upset over the blood in the shoes? [A]nd maybe u were mad for some other reason?” the rapper and social media savant tweeted on Wednesday, as news was released that Hawk had donated two vials of blood to his collaboration.
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Of course, many were quick to point out that the offense taken was to a perceived exploitation of Christianity, not the use of the blood itself (which, off the record, is just gross). Lil Nas X’s only online response to that critique was to promote his upcoming album, Montero, which will be his first full-length release. In a subsequent video promo, the rapper, born Montero Lamar Hill, passingly refers to himself as a “power bottom,” which is seemingly also referenced with a wink in the album’s insignia.
The promotion for Nas X’s full-length debut has been full throttle; in addition to making a Jimi Hendrix-inspired appearance as the cover star for VMan’s September issue, following covers for Variety and Out’s Fall Fashion issue. He is also due to perform at the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards and curated a playlist for Harper’s Bazaar’s Icons issue, as the issue’s musical director. The playlist, available on Apple Music, features many of the rapper’s faves (and arguably, a few problematic ones) like Nicki Minaj, Tyler, The Creator, Playboi Carti and Azealia Banks—and perhaps a slight troll (or not) with the inclusion of T.I.
Explaining his selections, he told the magazine: “I’ve learned that what makes someone iconic is when they’re able to be 100 percent themselves,” and adding “I’ve broken down barriers just by existing.”
While he’s known for expert internet trolling, Nas X took a more serious tone while introducing yet another of his comical skits, tweeting: “creating this album has been therapy for me. i’ve learned to let go of trying to control people’s perception of who i am, what i can do, and where i will be. i’ve realized the only opinion of me that really matters is my own.”
Montero is due for release on September 17.