On the highway to hell?
The “Old Town Road’' singer displayed demonic imagery that played with Christian themes in the video. It included scenes of him sliding down a stripper pole into hell, giving Satan a lap dance, engaging with demons and the serpent in the Garden of Eden and more.
The music video generated over 45 million views on YouTube since being released on March 26.
Lil Nas X also intended to release 666 pairs of his redesigned Nike Air Max 97′s called “Satan Shoes.” The shoes would contain a drop of human blood in the sole, an image of a pentagram and a reference to the Bible verse Luke: 10:18 about Satan’s fall from heaven.
The shoes were made in collaboration with MSCHF, a New York based streetwear company that has a history of designing viral products.
The shoes sold at $1,018 a pair and sold out after being released on Monday.
On Monday, Nike filed a copyright lawsuit against MSCHF over the controversial shoes. Nike claims to have no relationship or partnership with Lil Nas X, MSCHF and the creation of the shoe.
After the release of the music video and shoes, some on the internet were quick to express outrage, but others were fans of the artistry.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota expressed her views on Twitter in reaction to the Satan Shoes. Nas X rebuttled, “Ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. Do ur Job!”
Justin Marks, a USC junior majoring in communications and minoring in screenwriting and cinematic arts, was in the latter camp.
“I really liked the video immediately,” Marks said. “I think that people don’t realize sacrilegious activity is something that has been in pop music for so long and it’s always super fascinating to see an artist’s take on it.”
As for the shoes, Marks said he found it disturbing to have actual human blood in the soles, but “it’s nothing compared to the stuff heavy metal bands used to do twenty years ago.”
Lil Nas X came out as gay in 2019. LGBTQ+ people have a history of not always being accepted by Christians. Some groups of Christians believe that LGBTQ+ people do not deserve a spot in heaven and go to hell in the afterlife.
The Westboro Baptist Church is an eample of an anti-Semetic hate group that does not supoort homosexuality. The church is notorious for causing disruption on the daily with signs that display hate speech such as “God Hates America” and “God H8”s F*gs.”
The Grammy award-winning artist said in an interview with TIME that he was taught from a young age that being gay is not O.K. and should not be condoned.
“I grew up in a pretty religious kind of home,” Lil Nas told TIME. “I want kids growing up feeling these feelings, knowing they’re a part of the LGBTQ community, to feel like they’re O.K. and they don’t have to hate themselves.”
Marks saw this message in the music video. “This video is saying, ‘well if I’m gonna go to hell, at least I’ll have a good time there,’” he said.
The music video and shoe announcement were released over Palm Sunday weekend. For Christians, Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week and the Sunday before Easter.
Some Christians active on social media raised the question of whether Lil Nas time the video to intentionally jab at their beliefs.
“I had nine months to plan this rollout. Y’all [Christians] not gonna win bro,” Lil Nas responded on Twitter on Monday.
After gaining popularity in 2019 with the release of his Grammy-winning song “Old Town Road’' Lil Nas X gained popularity with a young base of fans. But this latest video was not appealing to many parents.
Cheyenne Butler is a mother and a leader at Antioch Church. Butler said she was shocked when she first watched the music video and said, “there was nothing entertaining about the video at all.”
She has a 5-year-old daughter and swears her daughter will never listen to Lil Nas X again. Butler says the video goes against everything she stands for as a Christian.
“There was so much symbolism in the video, too much to name, but most definitely demonic.” Butler said. “When he dropped to hell and was dancing with the devil I literally got chills. This is nothing to play with..”
In response to the demonic symbolism allegations, Nas X said that his song “Old Town Road” had a deeper meaning.
“I literally sing about lean and adultery in Old Town Road,” Nas X tweeted. “U decided to let your children listen. Blame yourself.”
Many other parents shared their views about the music video and the Satan Shoes on social media, including former Trojan and NBA Player Nick Young.
Lil Nas is known for his sarcastic presence on social media.
“Lil Nas knows how to use the internet and market himself probably better than any other artist I’ve seen recently,” Marks said. “He lives off of making headlines so these Satan Shoes are definitely part of that.”
Lil Nas shared a video to YouTube on Monday with an “apology” for his Satan Shoe. The apology video was a spoof that did not actually feature him apologizing, but showed the scene of him dancing on Satan in his music video.
Since the release of the music video and shoes, the artist showed how unbothered he was and has since tweeted and retweeted content from his new release and memes about himself.