The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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Date: Jul 2021
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Gen Z’s defining icon, at the age of 22 Lil Nas X has actively reinvented pop music with a key teaching: if you’re a musician in 2021, you may be better navigating the world of social media to make your music known than relying on being discovered by scouts at gigs or busking on street corners.

After a well-spent youth schooling himself in online culture, the king of memes is a master at starting trends. When he first hit the music scene around 2019, Old Town Road spent 19 weeks atop the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, smashing the longest-running record. Why? Because the digitally savvy teen promoted the song as a meme for months until it caught on to TikTok and it became bigger.

To hype up his track Montero (Call Me By Your Name) last year, Lil Nas X collaborated with art collective MSCHF on 666 pairs of ‘Satan Shoes’ that each contained a drop of human blood in the soles.

Lil Nas X

Not happy its Air Max 97s had been modified, Nike filed a high-profile trademark infringement lawsuit against the rapper, which resulted in the shoes being recalled. Despite the controversy, all news is good news in the Lil Nas X marketing playbook, it seems.

While the case was considered closed, on Monday Lil Nas X announced online that he had a court hearing over the controversial shoes, sharing fears that he could be heading to jail.

Alarmed that their favorite musician could soon be behind bars, Lil Nas X fans reacted to the news with memes, and a trending campaign hashtag #FreeLilNasX soon emerged.

Before things got too far, it soon emerged that Lil Nas X was in court in a teaser music video for his upcoming single Industry Baby. The fictional Nike trail sees Lil Nas X play a number of roles, including a judge, a defense attorney, a juror and a prosecutor. While the trail is seemingly meant to be around the Satan Shoes, it suddenly becomes centered on his sexuality. Once again, the gay visionary uses his platform to shake up the music industry.