Since the beginning of popular music, rock stars have often invoked Satan as a surefire way to scandalize parents and freak out the squares. In his latest endeavor, Lil Nas X is freaking out the squares in two different mediums. First, with the riotously gay music video for his latest single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” which features the rapper giving a lap dance to, then snapping the neck of, Beelzebub himself; and, now, with a limited-edition drop of “Satan Shoes,” 666 pairs of pentagram-accessorized Nike Air Max ’97s that allegedly contain one drop of human blood. In case there was any doubt in your mind that they might be, Nike clarified Sunday that the “Satan Shoes,” currently setting the internet aflame and set to drop March 29, have not been officially “endorsed” by the brand. Presumably because of the, you know, human blood part.
“We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF,” Nike told the New York Times Sunday. “Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them,” nor was the company involved “in any capacity” in the production of the sneakers. The Times also checked in with MSCHF, the Brooklyn brand selling the shoes, who claim “about six” employees drew their own blood to donate to Lil Nas X’s fashion endeavor. Said MSCHF co-founder Daniel Greenberg, “Uhhhhhh yeah hahah not medical professionals we did it ourselves lol.” A drop of blood was allegedly “mixed in with ink that fills an air bubble in the sneaker.”
Even as the nation’s youth-group leaders, not to mention South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, panic at the prospect of making both gay lap dances and occult footwear seem cool, Lil Nas X posted an “apology” video Sunday to address people’s concerns, an apology video that cuts almost immediately to the rapper’s above-mentioned scandalous music video.
As for the origin for his demonic aesthetic, Lil Nas X explained his inspiration on Twitter following his single’s release. In a nutshell, if some people insist Lil Nas X is going to hell for being queer, he might as well shoot a music video there and set himself free.
“It’s about a guy I met last summer. I know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist,” he wrote in a letter to his 14-year-old self. “You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”
And to anyone worried about their children purchasing “Satan Shoes” behind their backs: Don’t worry, they’re $1,018, a number inspired by Luke 10:18, which is also written on the shoes themselves: “And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”
Update: Monday, March 29, at 10 a.m.: Lil Nas X isn’t even arguing with the conservatives angrily tweeting at him, he’s simply stating facts. From right-wing pastors to public officials to gun girl Kaitlin Bennett, no one escaped Lil Nas X’s clapbacks. “ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes,” he responded to South Dakota governor Kristi Noem. “do ur job!” No Bible verses shall prosper against the rapper. When Noem responds, he hits her with his own Montero 1:08: “Shoot a child in your mouth while I’m ridin’.” The 21-year-old knew he “did something right” when Candace Owens, outrage personified, tweeted about the Satan shoes. Lil Nas X also had to set the record straight about “Old Town Road,” when Joyner Lucas claimed Nas X “dropped some left field ish” with “Montero,” catching parents and kids off guard. “i literally sing about lean & adultery in old town road,” Lil Nas X quote-tweets with the harsh truth. “u decided to let your child listen. blame yourself.” If you’re gonna let musicians raise your kids, don’t be surprised when they turn out cool as hell. Take notes on Lil Nas X’s comebacks below.
Update: Monday, March 29, at 5:35 p.m.: In an epic display of marketing dissonance, Nike is suing MSCHF, the designer behind the Satan sneak, for copyright infringement. According to a filing obtained by New York Times reporter Kevin Draper, the complaints include trademark infringement, false designation or origin, trademark dilution, and common-law-trademark infringement. Lil Nas X processed the news by making a meme.
The thing is, the Satan shoes are actually a sequel to a 2019 MSCHF design: Air Max 97s filled with 60 cubic centimeters of water from the River Jordan, allowing its wearer to “walk on water” like Jesus himself. Nike really shouldn’t have picked a fight with the internet’s sharpshooter. Lil Nas X is out for blood.
Update, Thursday, April 1 at 2:00 p.m.: U.S. District Court Judge Eric Komitee has stopped the sale of Lil Nas X’s limited-edition Satan shoes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Nike followed up their trademark lawsuit with a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The company claims the shoe will dilute the integrity of its icon, the swoosh. Lawyers for MSCHF argued the shoes are not sneakers, but “individually numbered works of art,” in a letter to the federal judge yesterday. At a hearing on Thursday, Nike stressed that both general consumers and “sophisticated sneakerheads were confused.” “We have submitted numerous evidence that some consumers are saying they will never buy Nike shoes ever again,” said Nike’s attorney, per THR. MSCHF says all but one pair have already been sold and shipped, but Komitee ruled in favor of Nike’s temporary restraining order. A hearing to consider a longer-lasting preliminary injunctive will follow.