In the summer of 2019, you may have heard Lil Nas X’ song, “Old Town Road.”
If you didn’t hear the actual song, you at least may have heard someone referring to it or saw it in Doritos’ 2020 Super Bowl Commercial.
The song gained massive popularity in spite of being released by an independent artist. It famously broke into the Billboard Top 20 Country songs based solely on its internet popularity as it went viral on Tik Tok and Twitter. Its notoriety only increased when Billboard pulled it from the country charts, determining that it didn’t have enough country elements to claim that label. The artist’s response was to release a version featuring nineties country heartthrob Billie Ray Cyrus which, along with the original, held the number one spot in the Billboard top 100 for 19 weeks.
Compared to much of what’s on the top 100, these days, Old Town Road was pretty tame, although as the rapper points out it does contain some illicit references. These references sailed right through the moral filters of many parents, however, as the song was particularly popular with kids.
At the peak of the song’s popularity, Lil Nas X came out as a homosexual, which kept him in the headlines, and then his song was used in a Super Bowl advertisement.
In the past year or so, however, we haven’t heard much about Lil Nas X. And apparently, he doesn’t like that.
Having lost the national spotlight, he’s muscled his way back into the Trending sections of social media by designing the quickly becoming infamous “Satan Shoe:” a limited drop of Nike tennis shoes put out by a New York “art collective.” The company released 666 of the Satan themed shoe, which features a pentagram, an inverted cross, the reference for the Bible verse regarding Satan falling from Heaven, and a drop of human blood in the sole.
The website for the shoe - www.satan.shoes – even quotes John Milton’s depiction of Satan in Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
It must be noted in the interest of accuracy that although Nike may have sold their soul to the devil, what with their slave labor and all, they are not yet ready to make a tacit endorsement of him and made that clear in a statement following the shoes’ release that "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.” They followed this up with a lawsuit of the company customizing the shoes.
But, back to Lil Nas X.
As he anticipated, there was a viral backlash as Christians came out in condemnation of these shoes, which he then used to bring attention to his newly released single.
Again, his initial hit was a goofy country rap crossover which particularly appealed to kids. His latest song is a letter to his younger self, encouraging him not to be afraid to come out as a homosexual. But the music video, which he used the backlash from the Satan shoes to promote in his Twitter feed, is exceptionally egregious.
The gist of it is that he’s dressed as a gay stripper, gives Satan a raunchy lap dance, then snaps Satan’s neck, steals his horns, and becomes the devil himself.
And of course, this is all on his social media, which is largely followed by the children who loved “Old Town Road.”
Lil Nas X response to parents? “I am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children.”
This might have been a leg to stand on, if he hadn’t started his career by appealing to children.
The fact is, the “Old Town Road” singer’s turn to the dark side didn’t come suddenly. As he tweeted out, “i had 9 months to plan this rollout. y’all are not gonna win bro.”
He knew exactly how this was going to go down and he knew it would work, because it’s exactly how he got famous in the first place: ride one genre to the top, create a controversy, and build your reputation on that attention.
The rapper meant for the entire campaign: the shoes, the song, the video, and the inevitable backlash to be a commentary on Christian “homophobia.”
Again, he said as much: “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the **** y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”
It’s unfortunate that Lil Nas X felt singled out. The Bible teaches all of us - not just homosexuals - to hate our sin. It tells us that because of Christ’s righteous life and death in our place, we have no fear of condemnation if our faith is in Him.
But the issue really comes down to the hook of Lil Nas X’ first hit: “Can’t nobody tell me nothin.’”
Lil Nas X and the side he stands for believe they are laws unto themselves, that they define their personhood, and they cannot be happy until others accept that.
Yet, they, like all of humanity, are made in God’s Image. That is the root of human dignity, and the more God is rejected and pushed away, the more we strive for autonomy, the more Lawless we become – the closer we come to Hell.
Lil Nas X has made it clear he feels very clever for the way he ‘played’ Christians to ride their outrage to the top, but Christians know that ultimately he’s the one who’s been played.