Hot off the heels of his prison-themed music video for his new single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X has teamed up with the non-profit organization The Bail Project, which raises bail funds for those stuck in pretrial detention.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance. But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail,” Lil Nas X writes for The Bail Project. “This isn’t just theoretical for me. It’s personal. I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family. And I know the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on Black Americans.”
The Bail Project works across the U.S. in states that uphold pretrial bails, so that defendants are not held under detention while awaiting trial—which can take months or years. Oftentimes, cash bail is used to reinforce racial and economic disparities within the prison industrial system, as white people are far less likely to be held under pretrial detention and are more likely to have lower bail amounts. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, young Black men are about 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and Black and brown defendants receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants. Currently, unconvicted defendants make up about two-thirds (65%) of jail populations nationally. The Bail Project seeks to keep people at home and with their families before they are deemed guilty or innocent; the organization’s ultimate goal is to eliminate cash bail all together.
Lil Nas X released another inspired and visually captivating music video this morning for “Industry Baby,” taking place at “Montero State Prison,” referring to the title of his forthcoming album (and the rapper’s actual name). Lil Nas X digs a tunnel through his wall Shawshank-style, covering it with a poster. Featured rapper Jack Harlow offers some straight representation before hitting the electric chair. As per usual, Lil Nas X is proud of his sexuality in “Industry Baby,” telling folks “I don’t fuck bitches, I’m queer,” and refusing to tone down aspects of his identity for the haters or homophobes. By the end of the video, Lil Nas X leads a rebellion at the prison, escaping as it burns to the ground.
Leading up the video, Lil Nas X shared teasers referencing to his recent legal scuffle with Nike after promoting 666 pairs of “Satan Shoes” in connection with his “Call Me By Your Name (Montero)“ music video. The shoes turned out to be exclusive pairs of heavily modified Nike Air Max 97s. The lawsuit did not involve the rapper at all, and Nike reached a settlement with the merchandising company MSCHF. As usual, he flawlessly plays off the drama to ultimately come out on top (even though he’s an admitted power bottom).