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Get Off Lil Nas X's D!ck

Backseat Freestyle
Get Off Lil Nas X's D!ck
By Jayson Rodriguez • Issue #27 • View online
Welcome to Backseat Freestyle. This is my weekly hip-hop newsletter I send out every Friday focusing on one big thing that happened over the past seven days. I also include links to what I’ve been listening to, reading and watching. If you’re a subscriber, thank you for your continued support. Please share this newsletter with your circle so they can enjoy too. If you’re arriving to this issue by way of a forward, LinkedIn or social media, please subscribe below. With that said, let’s get into it….

Lil Nas X // Credit: Rich Fury (Getty)
Lil Nas X // Credit: Rich Fury (Getty)
Front Seat
This is what’s driving hip-hop this week….
I’VE BEEN WANTING TO WRITE ABOUT Lil Nas X for some time now, but I couldn’t quite figure out what angle to take. I was gonna declare him the new Ogilvy, able to advertise anything better than anyone. Then I thought about labeling him King Troll, for the way he claps back so subversively at critics and haters alike. Some of my thoughts felt too large, some felt too small. The reason I’m doing it this week, of course, is because DaBaby said some stupid shit and T.I. and Boosie felt it was a good time to also chime in with stupid shit. Enough already. Lil Nas X is doing his thing: building his fan base, creating jams and making impactful decisions about the type of artist he wants to be. Very dope. However, there are those who purposely seek him out as a topic of conversation. Whether he’s related to the issue at hand or not. Especially Boosie. They don’t need to put down Nas X to tell us how straight they are. What they should do, though, is look at his success and step their game up.
Back Seat
Respect my mind or die from lead shower.
LET’S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY from the jump: It’s not Lil Nas X’s sexual preference that’s the threat to rappers, it’s his success. If he were a gay rapper with a middling track record, he’d be easier to otherize. He’d be filed as a different type of act, covered by alternative press, maybe, and if he even charted it wouldn’t be on the same chart they aspire to have their records on. 
That he’s popular because of his music just as much as his message, that he’s cool because of his social media presence and not silenced, that he decided once he had our attention that he wanted to emphasize his sexuality and not play coy with the pronouns in his lyrics, these things not only made Lil Nas X a star but with it the opportunity to rewrite rules. 
He now commands a soapbox in pop culture. 
When he ruminates about the VMAs and floats the idea of performing nude (ala his “Industry Baby” video), it makes for headlines
He decided he’s going to center his sexuality as a part of his identity. Which, why wouldn’t he?
Because “Old Town Road” was record-breaking, “Montero” was boundary pushing, and “Industry Baby” is a muthafuckin’ anthem, Lil Nas X’s star is attracting the gravity of the game. 
So, he decided he’s going to center his sexuality as a part of his identity. Which, why wouldn’t he? T.I. decided he was going to make being the King of the South and the Rubberband Man his thing. DaBaby decided immature outlandishness was a part of his brand and to our dismay he really stuck to his guns there
Now, for the obvious: they all got gay family members. (So they should know better, but remember: it’s not about that.)
I have gay family members, too. Lemme tell you about one for a moment, his name is Landy. He’s older than me, looks younger than me, he’s hilarious, caring and you’ll know he’s gay as soon as he starts talking. But he also came up in the ‘80s and he’s formed by that upbringing in ways that bring morals from the street and the pulpit. 
Here’s what I mean by that last part. 
When the music video for “Montero” was released, my cousin wrote on his IG story about it saying Lil Nas X looked like Shanaynay along with a message that resembled that meme about the hip-hop the older generation like his was raised on compared to that of the younger generation. (It goes something like: Dr. Dre, Big, 2Pac > Lil Pump, Lil Yatchy, Lil Uzi Vert. It’s wack and
I hate it.)
I hit him up:
 I’m surprised this is your reaction. Did you read his letter that went with the video? Was pretty creative if not over the top. Recreating Adam and Eve as his own coming out story. And choosing to be satan so kids who get vilified won’t be punished instead he will set them free. Sure, over the top. But I thought the story to the video was pretty cool. 🤷🏻‍♂️
He replied: 
Wow…I didn’t read that…I just feel like we are on blast enough for being gay and now we are being displayed with Satan himself. I get he was trying to tell his story but It was WAY over the top…riding Satan! lol as a gay man - I never rode somebody like that…lol 
I LOL’d a lot and replied:
I know the satan and religion thing is a lot. I liked him pointing out the hypocrisy. I think folks conveniently have morals when it comes to bible passages.
To which he replied:
You’re right…growing up a Jehovah’s Witness I can totally relate to the hypocrisy and judgmental ways of the church…😡
I then sent him the press release with Lil Nas X’s statement about the video and my cuz finished with:
Ok…that’s deep…I get it. I’m still stuck on Shanaynay tho…😂😂😂
It’s like when you have the remote in your hand, you get to control what everyone is watching. 
Even for my cousin, Lil Nas X’s decisions are striking. That’s because it’s not just about being gay. Well, not the only thing. 
With his success, Lil Nas X’s profile is rising. He’s what matters. It’s like when you have the remote in your hand, you get to control what everyone is watching. That’s not easy for everyone.
Take Boosie. He’s irrelevant and we watch him for the car crash that he is.
T.I. ain’t in the limelight anymore. But it doesn’t stop him from thinking he’s a voice of a generation. (Even at his peak he wasn’t, if we’re keeping it a buck.)
DaBaby is climbing the mountaintop and he was doing a good job of it, slowly but assuredly, grinding it out with project after project. 
It’s taken Lil Nas X less records to do it, though, and he’s already higher up than DaBaby ever was (or probably will ever be.)
That Lil Nas X is so close to the top is what scares them all. Because then he opens the door for those he inspired to follow. And it’s crowded up there and more people means the old guard might have to fight harder. 
And that’s what it’s really about, them. Their ego, their fears and their attempt to claim shit that’s not even theirs. 
So, get off of Lil Nas X’s dick. Unless you don’t want to. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Trunk
Music, reads, podcasts and videos (music and more) I’m checking for.
Feels like when it comes to Isaiah Rashad, you’re either a diehard fan or you’ve sort of heard about him (because of his TDE affiliation) but you don’t know much about him. That’s a shame because he has some real musical chops. His latest, The House if Burning, continues to showcase his curatorial instincts; he has a gift for nods both sly and over to his Southern rap influences. I’ll tell you what I could use more of: An Isaiah Rashad + Duke Deuce joint project after listening to “Lay Wit Ya.” Related: GQ serves up a good Q&A with the Tennessee titan. [Listen] [Read]
Maxo Kream returns with an introspective look at life in H-Town with “Local Jokers.” I dug his RCA debut, Brandon Banks. [Listen
El Alfa with what must be a Summer Jam preview, a “La Mama de la Mama’‘ remix featuring Busta Rhymes, Anitta, Wisin, Cherry and CJ, with whom El Jefe will be joining on the Hot 97 stage. [Listen]. 
I like the idea of Kash Doll x Juicy J and a record that flips the conventions of earlier classics, but “Like A Pro” doesn’t do that. It jams a bit, though.. [Listen]
Skepta dropped off an EP, called All In, featuring J Balvin and Kid Cudi. “Nirvana” has perfect late summer evening vibes. “Eyes On Me” has late night summer turn-up energy. [Listen]
Just a great Q&A with Tyler, The Creator conducted by Complex’s Aria Hughes. They go into such good detail on his design philosophy, his collabs and that BET Awards performance. Can’t recommend this one enough. [Read]
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the one-of-one Wu-Tang Clan album, has been sold to an unidentified buyer as a means of restitution for the victims of Martin Shkreli’s crimes. [Read]
A look at the data wars going on between A&R departments. [Read]
The NYT’s Corner Office column taps Snoop Dogg this week for a chat about the Long Beach rapper’s expanding business portfolio. [Read]
I missed this when it was published, but Billboard named their top 50 producers of the 21st Century and hip-hop beatsmiths dominated the top 15. [Read]
The Root asks: When will there be a LGBTQ Rennasaince in Rap? [Read]
My favorite news item of the week: #SavageChallenge creator Keara Wilson (yeah) earned her copyright (hey, hey, yeah) for creating theTikTok dance (woah, woah). [Read]
Mach Hommy isn’t long for press but when he does speak it’s always illuminating, as is the case in this sit-down he did with NPR centered about the recent events in Haiti. [Listen]
Haven’t had a chance to listen to season 3 of Mogul yet, but Jinx is feelin’ himself about the last episode and if you know me you know how much I wanna work with him, so all the props to the young king. Check it out. I’m going to soon. [Listen]
Young Thug emptied out the clip and premiered four new songs during his Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. [Watch]
Nabil helmed this visual for Pop Smoke’s “Demeanor” featuring Dua Lipa, which feels like it has some “Bridgerton” to it. [Watch]
(Jay-Z voice) Eladio Carrion, you crazy for this one! Daddy Yankee, J Balvin and Bobby Shmurda talk that shit on “Tata.” What a way for Bobby to come back. [Watch]
This is my favorite video of the week. Morray really compliments “Trenches” with a blue collar visual. I especially like that he sticks around on screen for Polo G’s verse. This is how you craft a star image. [Watch]
A$AP Ferg and graf legend HAZE sat down together for a discussion as a part of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts exhibit: “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation.” Related: Ferg directed a short for Snapple about corner store life (bodegas, delis) featuring some familiar faces from New York, including Dapper Dan, Bodega Bamz, Renell Medrano and Anik Khan (his new EP is out now). [Watch] [Watch]
These two brothers have travelled a long way for the circle to reconnect. Check out Diddy interviewing Shyne, his former Bad Boy Records artist who is now the leader of the (political parliamentarian) opposition in Belize. It’s an unbelievable 10 minutes. [Watch]
Backseat Freestyle is written and produced by Jayson Rodriguez for Smarty Art LLC. If you have any comments, questions or want to discuss sponsoring a newsletter issue, feel free to email me: jayson@smartyartllc.com. And follow me elsewhere:
(I added a couple of new links below recently because I might experiment with promoting Backseat Freestyle on TikTok and Clubhouse or Twitch.)
Instagram: @jaysonrodriguez
Clubhouse: @jaysonrodriguez
YouTube: smartyartllc
Podcast: coming soon
Tips/coffee/beer via Venmo: @jaysonrodriguez
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Jayson Rodriguez

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