Lil Nas X Details 'Painful and Strained' History with BET, Says Network Asked If He Worshiped Satan

"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," Lil Nas X recently told Rolling Stone

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X. Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty

Lil Nas X is expanding on his feelings toward BET.

After making headlines with his criticism of the network for snubbing him at the BET Awards 2022 and subsequently releasing his new single "Late to Da Party," which disses BET in its lyrics and artwork, Lil Nas X and members of his team spoke to Rolling Stone about his "painful and strained" relationship with the organization.

In an article published ahead of the BET Awards 2022 on Sunday, the 23-year-old musician claimed the network held conversations with his team to confirm he wasn't a "satanist or devil worshiper" before giving him the go-ahead to perform "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" at the 2021 ceremony.

"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," Lil Nas X told the outlet 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."

Ahead of the viral performance, which saw Lil Nas X kiss one of his backup dancers, the "Old Town Road" hitmaker sparked controversy for giving the devil a lap dance in the sexually-charged "Montero" music video and releasing blood-infused "satan shoes" (modified Nike sneakers) in partnership with MSCHF. Nike then sued the musician, though the suit was settled in April 2021.

According to Lil Nas X's team, BET reached out to discuss the controversies before he was cleared to perform. "The response we got back was, 'We need to clarify a few things,'" said an anonymous team member. "Is he a Satanist? Are there going to be elements of devil worship or satan in the show? I was so taken aback by it. We'd been fielding those questions from people for months by that point after the video and the shoes, and of course the answer was no and we obviously got the slot. But it blew our minds."

Lil Nas X BET
Lil Nas X. Johnny Nunez/Getty

Lil Nas X's performance went viral became easily one of the most notable parts of the ceremony, but his team claimed BET wasn't pleased. "It didn't feel celebratory," said the source. "The response I got back was that they felt taken advantage of."

Another one of his team members told Rolling Stone one of the award show's producers expressed disappointment toward the performance. "At some point after [Nas] got offstage, one of the BET producers came up to me and before I could even open my mouth, he looked at me and said, 'That was really f---ed up,'" they recalled.

Upon the reveal of the BET Awards 2022 nominations earlier this month, Lil Nas X called out the organization for not recognizing his latest album Montero or its singles, including "Industry Baby" and "That's What I Want," in multiple since-deleted posts.

"thank you bet awards. an outstanding zero nominations," he wrote on Twitter. "black excellence!"

After a fan questioned his tweet and asked why he felt he deserved to be nominated, Lil Nas X responded: "idk maybe 3 of the biggest songs of last year & a critically acclaimed album… i feel like that should've helped me a bit."

Montero, which came out in September, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and was nominated for album of the year at the Grammy Awards.

In a follow-up tweet, Lil Nas X, who identifies as gay, further explained his frustrations, and said it was less about his lack of nominations and more about what he feels is a lack of acceptance.

"this not over no BET award," he wrote in one post. "this is about the bigger problem of homophobia in the black community, y'all can sit and pretend all u want but imma risk it all for us."

The BET Awards responded in a statement on June 7, writing, "We love Lil Nas X. He was nominated for a Best New Artist BET Award in 2020, and we proudly showcased his extraordinary talent and creativity on the show twice: he performed 'Old Town Road' with Billy Ray Cyrus at BET Awards 2019 and his BET Awards 2021 performance was a highlight of our show. No one cheered louder that night than BET."

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Lil Nas X accused BET of responding to his performance differently behind the scenes. "They say that 'no one cheered louder' for me than them that night, but the BET Awards team was actually very upset that I kissed my dancer onstage and vocalized their discontent with multiple members of my team immediately following the performance," he said.

One of the rapper's teammates then said, "It's almost like they didn't mind sweet kind of gay 'Old Town Road' Lil Nas X, but this is too much."

They continued, "I think BET is doubling down on what they did wrong. Instead of saying, 'We got it wrong,' they said, 'It's [the voting] community and they don't f--- with him,' which is bulls---. All the accolades, the achievements Nas has had in his career, all the music people have consumed, the [voting] community doesn't f--- with him? What are you talking about?"

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