Lil Nas X Is Pushing New Boundaries in His “Industry Baby” Video

Culture
The latest installment in the wildest album rollout to date features Jack Harlow, pink jumpsuits, and a hefty dose of nudity.
Lil Nas X and eight other men dancing nude in a pink tiled prison bathroom.
Lil Nas X in the “Industry Baby” music video.Courtesy of Vevo/Columbia.

Lil Nas X’s album rollout has officially taken a turn into the multiversal. Last night, he dropped the music video for “Industry Baby,” a Kanye West and Take a Daytrip-produced track featuring Jack Harlow and some serious horn rips. It’s the next step in one of the wildest multi-platform promo campaigns in existence, which has included a sacrilegious music video, a Nike lawsuit, allegedly real human blood, making out with Dominic Fike on behalf of Brockhampton, and at least one billion pissed-off conservative tweets. Welcome to the Lil Nas X Cinematic Universe

“Industry Baby” follows a two-minute teaser trailer released earlier this week, wherein Lil Nas X is judged and defended by himself for, uh, ripping off sneakers and also being gay. Cut to three months later, and he’s serving a five-year term at the fictional Montero State Prison, where the jumpsuits are hot pink and the inmates polish Grammys in their spare time.

The video follows a Shawshank-style prison break staged by Nas with the assistance of Jack Harlow. Nas is certainly bringing his quest for extreme controversy to new heights: an early scene finds him in the nude, leading with a “Formation”-esque cohort of similarly nude men in a pink-tiled prison shower. In this universe, boundaries are meant to be broken.

“Industry Baby” is also a self-referential tour through Nas’ career that promises himself, his fans, and his enemies he’ll keep rising. The chorus, backed by triumphant horns, opens with the line “I told you long ago on the road, I got what they waiting for,” harkening back to his breakout single. He even alludes to his pre-fame days of being a Nicki Minaj Stan account, fanning the hype over their eventual collaboration by saying she needs to get on his upcoming album before it’s done.

Imagery from Nas’ past few months pops up throughout—the poster disguising the hole he’s digging is a shot of his onstage makeout at the BET Awards, the hammer delivered to him nestled in a vaguely Illuminati-looking Book of Montero. Meanwhile, a prison guard (played by, in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo, Colton Haynes) distracted by none other than the Montero video gets whacked on Nas’ way out the building. Both Harlow and Nas sing about being young rap breakouts expected to be one-hit wonders and racking up records instead. It’s a braggadocious, swaggering ode to the oldest trick in the rap handbook— succeeding when everyone wants you to fail—with a youthful twist: just because you break out young doesn’t mean your star dies early. Haven’t you heard? The break is over.

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