Lil Nas X may be an “Industry Baby,” but he’s no darling of the BET Awards. Ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, in which the rapper received zero nominations for the second year in a row, he released a biting diss track aimed at the awards.
On Friday, Lil Nas X, 23, debuted the music video and full version of his previously teased song “Late to Da Party,” featuring NBA YoungBoy. The single references his snub of him by the Black cable channel, as well as the commercial success of his music of him.
“I just put like three up in the top 10,” raps Lil Nas X. “Don’t try me. Better save that (expletive) for somebody else.”
In the video, the rapper crashes the BET Awards and gets onstage to perform the explicit chorus slamming the ceremony.
Hours before the music video was released, Lil Nas X shared a “Star Wars”-esque opening crawl saying, “The Brutal Empire of Terror (BET) has betrayed LIL NAS X, turning their back on him after using his clout.” The script warns viewers that “the music industry (is) in turmoil” and it’s up to him and NBA YoungBoy to “defeat the evil BET before time runs out.”
Lil Nas X released a preview of the song on Twitter earlier this month, posting a video of himself lip-syncing the song’s lyrics.
The rapper explained on Twitter that his response to the snub goes beyond having a beef with BET.
“this not over no bet award,” he tweeted. “this is about the bigger problem of homophobia in the black communityy’all can sit and pretend all u want but imma risk it all for us.”
The diss track follows a series of now-deleted tweets from June 1, in which the star vented frustration over the brushoff, according to screenshots and reports from People, Complex and the Los Angeles Times.
“thank you bet awards. an outstanding zero nominations again,” he wrote, before humorously adding, “black excellence!”
in to statement released a week later, BET said Lil Nas X didn’t receive any nominations this year because he wasn’t nominated by BET’s Voting Academy, which consists of “an esteemed group of nearly 500 entertainment professionals,” adding, “No one from BET serves as a member of the Voting Academy.”
“We love Lil Nas X,” the statement read. “He was nominated for a Best New Artist BET Award in 2020, and we proudly showcased his extraordinary talent and creativity on the show twice: he performed ‘Old Town Road’ with Billy Ray Cyrus at ‘BET Awards’ 2019 and his ‘BET Awards ‘ 2021 performance was a highlight of our show. No one cheered louder that night than BET.”
“At BET, we are passionate advocates for the wonderful diversity that exists within our community,” BET said. “We are committed to using all of our platforms to provide visibility and inclusion for all of the many intersections of the Black community.”
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Fans of Lil Nas X also called out the BET Awards when the nominations were announced, pointing out the fact that JackHarlow, who is up for best male hip-hop artist, was nominated instead of the “Montero” artist. Harlow was featured on Lil Nas X’s song “Industry Baby,” which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Industry Baby did wonders for Jack Harlow but somehow he gets acknowledged by BET and not Lil Nas X,” wrote one Twitter user. “They do not respect themselves.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “Please explain to me how the BET Awards nominates Jack Harlow and not Lil Nas X??? Their erasure of black queer people is disgusting! Do better.”
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“BET Awards didn’t nominate Lil Nas X but know who they did nominate? Jack Harlow,” wrote @TheyThem224 on Twitter.
the user added that the “First Class” rapper could “simply decline his egregiously undue nomination. Maybe you should text him @LilNasX”
“Jack Harlow got a BET awards nomination and not the Black man he did a song with … man that’s so backwards,” wrote @DaricCott on Twitter.
@DijahSB wrote on Twitter: “jack harlow winning a BET award was actually on my bingo card for the year because there’s nothing that shocks me anymore.”
Another user on social media tweeted: “Something about Jack Harlow getting a #BET nomination but not Lil Nas X just feels weird to me. I won’t be watching. For a lot of reasons this one included.”
The top nominees at this year’s BET Awards also include DrakeAri Lennox and Doja Catwith the “Planet Her” rapper scoring six nominations in total. Will Smith was also nominated for best actor for his role in “King Richard,” following his infamous slapping of Chris Rock at the Oscars in March.
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When asked by someone on Twitter what material he’s released that would warrant a BET nomination, Lil Nas X cited having “3 of the biggest songs of last year & a critically acclaimed album.”
“i feel like that should’ve helped me a bit,” he added.
Lil Nas X’s debut album “Montero” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and spawned three top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. USA TODAY’s music critic Melissa Ruggieri described it as “a genuine musical progression.”
“The introspection that the openly gay Lil Nas X reveals throughout ‘Montero’ is laudable. So is his willingness to dabble in unadulterated pop, grimy rock and the rap-singing that has so far popularized his career,” Ruggieri wrote.
On his sexuality, Lil Nas X also wrote on Twitter that his BET Awards snub symbolizes the struggle of queer people of color to gain consistent mainstream recognition.
“Doesn’t even have to be nominated,” he tweeted. “i just feel like black gay ppl have to fight to be seen in this world and even when we make it to the top mfs try to pretend we are invisible.”
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Contributing: Elise Brisco and Naledi Ushe
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism