Lil Nas X has protested often and loudly about being excluded from the nominations for the BET Awards, and his friend and “Industry Baby” collaborator Jack Harlow made his own silent statement on the show’s red carpet Sunday by rocking a Lil Nas T-shirt.
At the time of this article’s publication, it was not clear whether or not Harlow had commented on the carpet, but he has already been on the receiving end of substantial criticism for being a white rapper nominated for BET awards, so silent protest may have been the safest path.
Harlow’s label slyly serviced the red-carpet photo, noting that Harlow’s shoes and pants were by Givenchy but did not mention the Nas shirt.
Over the past few weeks, Nas has publicly denounced the BET Awards for their failure to nominate him at this year’s awards and moreover, for “the bigger problem of homophobia in the Black community,” as he wrote in a tweet earlier this month. However, the network has repeatedly stressed that the awards are voted on by fans and the network plays no role.
On June 24, Nas released his latest single “Late to Da Party,” which includes a “Fuck BET” chorus line and an album cover which shows him (presumably it’s him) urinating on a BET Award in a toilet. Nas and members of his team told Rolling Stone that before the singer’s BET performance last year — in which Nas made headlines kissing one of his male backup dancers — the network “was hesitant when booking Nas, asking for his team’s confirmation that he wasn’t a ‘satanist or devil worshiper,’ the rapper claims.” They also reported that the performance, and the kiss specifically, left certain network producers upset.
“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,” Nas told Rolling Stone in a statement. “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.”
In response, a BET spokesperson said that the “summation of events around Lil Nas X’s 2021 BET Awards performance is simply untrue.”
“Since last year’s performance, we have been in touch to work on other projects,” the rep adds. “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.”