After getting snubbed by the network's awards show, Montero opened up about what he says really happened behind the scenes.
Lil Nas X’s relationship with the BET Awards is even more fraught, and disappointing, than previously known. The day before the show, which aired on Sunday night, with a controversial zero nominations for the breakout pop star, the rapper and his team spoke to Rolling Stone, giving more details on his escalating feud with the network.
"My relationship with BET has been painful and strained for quite some time. It didn't start with this year's nominations like most people might think," he said. "They did let me perform on their show last year, but only after [I gave] assurances that I was not a satanist or devil worshiper, and that my performance would be appropriate for their audience."
The music video for one of Lil Nas X’s most popular songs, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” features a tongue-in-cheek sequence of the rapper giving Satan a lap dance — a jab at the kind of homophobic rhetoric that often declares gay people will be sentenced to eternal damnation.
After the award show gave no nominations to Lil Nas X this year, despite his chart-topping hits and a critically acclaimed debut album, the star publicly called out BET. "thank you bet awards. an outstanding zero nominations again. black excellence,” he tweeted. In another deleted tweet, he added, “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.”
The artist has continued to criticize the network and his most recent single, “Late to Da Party,” from last Friday, features a “Fuck BET” chorus line and cover artwork that depicts a BET Award trophy sitting in a toilet and being urinated on. He has also linked his disappointment over the snub to the “bigger problem of homophobia in the Black community,” a claim that is particularly enhanced in light of his revelations to Rolling Stone.
After his performance at last year’s show, in which he kissed one of his backup dancers on-stage, Lil Nas X and members of his team who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the network was upset. “At some point after [Nas] got offstage, one of the BET producers came up to me and before I could even open my mouth, he looked at me and said, ‘That was really fucked up,’” a team member said. In a statement after his initial criticisms over the lack of nominations, BET said that it was its Voting Academy, a separate entity that made the decisions, and that “no one cheered louder” for his 2021 performance than did the network.
“They say that ‘no one cheered louder’ for me than them that night,” Lil Nas X countered to Rolling Stone, “but the BET Awards team was actually very upset that I kissed my dancer onstage and vocalized their discontent with multiple members of my team immediately following the performance.”
In response, BET has denied these most recent claims and diverted attention instead to the night’s festivities, where one of its actual nominees, the rapper Jack Harlow (who has collaborated with Lil Nas X on the hit song “Industry Baby”), protested the snub, arriving on the red carpet donning a Lil Nas X t-shirt.
The “summation of events around Lil Nas X’s 2021 BET Awards performance is simply untrue,” a spokesperson for the network said in a statement. The representative added: “Since last year’s performance, we have been in touch to work on other projects. We are still excited about his previous performances and continue to wish him well. But today, we are focused on culture’s biggest night and delivering history-making moments for fans worldwide.”