Lil Nas X knew his newest single, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," would have some people clutching their pearls in puritanical horror. So he leaned into their discomfort, baiting religious conservatives by giving Satan a lap dance in the song's music video.
Then, over the weekend, Nas dropped a controversial sneaker collaboration that doubles as a genius troll. The rapper and singer partnered with New York-based art collective MSCHF to make 666 pairs of "Satan shoes," which are modified black-and-red Nike Air Max 97s that each contain a drop of real human blood. Right on cue, some high-profile conservatives got super offended.
With religious types threatening to boycott both Nas and Nike, the sneaker maker quickly distanced itself from the stunt, clarifying they had nothing to do with affixing pentagrams and upside-down crosses to their shoes and pumping them with plasma. "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them," the company said in a statement. As for the blood, this was donated by MSCHF members. "We love to sacrifice for our art," a spokesperson for the group told CNN. The shoes are priced at $1,018 a pair, referencing the Bible passage Luke 10:18 that reads: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."
One of the biggest political figures publicly fretting over Nas's eternal soul is South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who tweeted that the sneakers would corrupt children. "We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win," she wrote. Nas fired back: "ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!"
Candace Owens took aim at the Satan shoes (and Cardi B, again) and Nas replied, "you know you did something right when she talks about it." Zing! In response to a video of right-wing pastor Greg Locke having an absolute meltdown about "devil-worshiping, wicked nonsense," the rapper wrote, "i'm sampling this."
Nas also issued a "heartfelt apology" to those he offended:
This is hardly the first time in history that popular music has spawned "Satanic Panic." Back in the 1950s, conservatives dubbed rock and roll the "devil's music," but a lot of the forefathers of the genre — Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and B. B. King — were raised in the evangelical church. A few decades later, Ozzy Osbourne terrified square parents everywhere with heavy metal and an infamous 1982 concert in Des Moines where he bit the head off a bat. The rocker was rushed to the hospital for emergency rabies shots right afterwards.
Anyway, no animals were harmed in the making of Nas's "Satan shoes" — just some Brooklyn artists.