Hail Satan? Lil Nas X's Unholy #SatanShoes Controversy, Explained

Conservatives are going wild.

Lil Nas X finally came forward and apologized for the "Nike blood sneakers" he is designing, as well as his incendiary music video for "Montero," which sees the rapper go to hell and dance on the lap of Satan.

Just kidding. He didn't apologize for any of it.

Actually, Lil Nas X has spent the majority of the weekend doing what he does best: trolling his critics online. After the explosive Friday release of the "Montero" music video, the internet has been set ablaze by two factions: fans praising the video and detractors who are aghast (aghast, I say!) at what they've seen come from the young rapper. The video and subsequent rumor of "blood sneakers" has caught the ire of the conservative set, making them question if Lil Nas X is appropriate for children.

For those not following along, the past few sentences might be a bit of a whirlwind, so let's break down everything that has happened over the weekend.

The 'Montero' Video

Early Friday, Lil Nas X released his long-anticipated single, "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)." Along with it came one of the most memorable music videos in recent history, featuring Lil Nas X as a heavenly creature seduced by a tempter, judged by a body of peers, and inevitably sent to hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before breaking his neck. Classic. Of course the video, which references the 2017 film about two young men who fall in love, is a statement on the singer's sexuality. The rapper unabashedly embraces his queerness, telling a story equal parts demonic, erotic, and brazen.


The video drew a lot of attention. Lil Nas X posted a short note on Twitter, explaining to his younger self (fun fact: Lil Nas X's birth name is Montero Lamar Hill) that even though it scared him to do so, he wanted to release this video for the both of them as a statement that people should stay out of one another's business.

Clearly not heeding the message of the note, people got in his business. The video has drawn the attention of the likes of Candace Owens, the governor of South Dakota, and that wannabe blonde conservative influencer who carries a gun around all the time.

The Blood Sneakers

Then there are the blood sneakers. Along with the "Montero" single drop, New York-based art collective MSCHF is working with Lil Nas X to release a version of Nike Air Max 97s featuring a gold pentagram, as well as red liquid in the bubble of the shoe. In the bubble, there is going to be one drop of human blood.

Set for release on Monday at 11 a.m., the sneakers are priced at $1,018, referencing the Luke 10:18 verse on the sole of the shoe. The verse reads: "He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.'" Nike quickly distanced itself from the project, noting that it was not part of the collaboration, nor did it endorse the project.

The Backlash/Old Town Road

The backlash over the weekend has been a mix of conservative performative outrage and fringe hip hop fans distancing themselves from the rapper. The main grief point seems to be that the news of the sneaker drop, which presumably did not make its way to Conservative Twitter until Palm Sunday, coincided with the start of Holy Week. Also, twerking upon the devil has never been a greatest hit with the religious set. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem tweeted about the rapper twice, joining a chorus of other conservative accounts.

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Additionally, conservatives started suggesting that they'll rethink letting their children listen to Lil Nas X's most popular hit, "Old Town Road." The song became so popular following its release that it became a crossover staple in hip-hop, pop, and country. Criticism from fellow hip-hop artist Joyner Lucas, in particular, has piqued the internet's interest. Lil Nas X responded in kind.


Lil Nas X does have a point. Neither adultery nor lean are what we would call "kid tested, mother approved."

The Fake Apology

In response to the online backlash, Lil Nas X posted a video on Sunday with the title: Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe. But five seconds into the 46 second video, the apology shifts to a supercut of... you guessed it... Lil Nas X grinding on the devil in hell.

For reference, the devil himself is wearing a pair of the upcoming MSCHF collaboration, indicating that these are truly going to be a hot commodity. Of course, this is just the most recent in the ongoing string of conservative outrage. But of all the responses to the responses, Lil Nas X summed up the controversy most succinctly.


This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by editors.

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About The Author
Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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