Is Lil Nas X going too far with his ‘Satan’ sneakers and music video?
- Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, is an American rapper, known for his widely successful hip-hop country mix “Old Town Road” that won two Grammys.
- On Monday, March 29, 2021, Lil Nas X released 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes” with streetwear company MSCHF. They are altered Nike Air Max 97s that contain a “drop” of blood in the sole, are adorned with a pentagram pendant, and have the Bible verse Luke 10:18 on the side. The shoes reportedly sold out within one minute.
- Nike filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against MSCHF after first denying a partnership with the rapper, saying, “Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”
- Lil Nas X posted a music video related to his shoe line called “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” depicting himself gyrating on the devil along with other sexualized scenes.
- On May 28, 2020, Lil Nas X appeared on HBO’s Sesame Street spin-off The Not-Too-Late Show to sing a duet with Elmo. In January 2021, he announced his kids book C is for Country, saying he is “OK” with children making up most of his fanbase.
- In 2019, MSCHF released a Jesus-themed shoe emblazoned with another Bible verse, Matthew 14:25, and filled with “60cc of holy water.”
Lil Nas X's 'Satan Shoes' may make some people uncomfortable, but the fact of the matter is that the rapper has the right to design and sell what he wants as long as he isn't breaking any laws or hurting anyone. The blood incorporated into the red ink that fills the shoe soles, which gave the shoes their infamy, shouldn't be controversial. The blood was donated by a group of 'by members of the art collective' called MSCHF.
Lil Nas X is an artist, and his job is to produce and design things that his fans like and will be interested in. His music video for 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' and the devil portrayed in the video simply represent the image the rapper wants to get across to his fans—and they are supporting him. The shoes and Lil Nas X's lap dance with 'Satan' in his 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' video are artistic portrayals of the song's lyrics. The rapper has the right to do what he wants as long he follows the law, regardless of what religious and political figures may think.
MSCHF, who collaborated with Lil Nas X on the sneakers, is known for these types of insincere and ironic products. There wasn't an uproar over the 2019 release of their 'Jesus Shoes,” and the 'Satan Shoes' are completing that set. Artists should be left alone to produce their pieces without judgment from political and religious figures who have no place in the industry and can refuse to buy the shoes or watch the music video if it offends them.
Rapper Lil Nas X's recently released 'Satan Shoes,' adorned with a pentagram and containing drops of human blood, is a sad indication of what's deemed acceptable by our society. This is beyond artistic expression, as it may advocate for Satanic rituals—not Wiccan or Pagan beliefs, but full-blown devil-worshipping. While some may choose a form of these as their 'religion,' it is disturbing considering that some variations of Satanism are associated with human and animal sacrifice. This is not an over-exaggeration since 'members of the art collective' voluntarily donated their own blood to make the shoes.
The sneakers are also highly insulting in their mockery of Christianity, as the price of $1,018 is based on the Biblical passage Luke 10:18, which glorifies Jesus’ reference to Satan. Lil Nas X was also distastefully creative in purposely only releasing 666 pairs of the shoes. While Lil Nas X claimed that his religious upbringing condemned him for being gay, his recent response is unhelpful in gaining respect and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community. Lil Nas X's 'apology' video on YouTube aggravated the situation further, as it is essentially clickbait that abruptly changes to a clip of his sexualized, demonic music video, forcing unsuspecting viewers to watch him 'giving Satan a lap dance.'
The unsettling footwear are a negative influence for young viewers who may look up to the rapper. And while Lil Nas X's controversial video is, of course, protected free speech, that does not necessarily make it right. Countless other music artists have produced questionable lyrics and videos; however, one that glorifies hell and Satan is arguably too extreme to be deemed appropriate, especially for his young audience following.