Looking to make a splash with his first new single in more than two years, Lil Nas X is setting new personal bests for provocation with his new song and video, portraying “the man who had the best comeback”: “J. Christ.”
After opening the gates of heaven for celebrity look-alikes of A-list stars including Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Oprah and Barack Obama, Nas sings the beginning lines of “J. Christ.” Nas tapped his returning choreographer Sean Bankhead to arrange the video’s elaborate dance numbers.
From there, the eye-popping video moves through multiple visually dazzling, Biblical-oriented scenes, finishing with Nas as Noah, building an ark and setting sail after the great flood, with the video ending on an end-of-part-one, to-be-continued note. Loaded with both LGBTQ and religious imagery, it’s Nas pushing buttons with the same style and sensibilities as his earlier videos, notably “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” and “That’s What I Want.”
While the song and his delivery are strong, its hook is so reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” that the similarity can he hard to get past.
Before the song’s release, Nas was on the receiving end of significant backlash for repeatedly utilizing religious imagery to promote his music. Nas has been in the middle of this type of firestorm before, as his last full-length record was preceded by a provocative music video for his Hot 100-topping single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” which explored a queer realm of mythological fantasy with its main stars being Nas and the Devil.
In a tweet shared after the new single’s cover art was made public, the rapper disregarded the idea that he was in any way mocking Jesus, writing, “The crazy thing is nowhere in the picture is a mockery of Jesus. Jesus’s image is used throughout history in people’s art all over the world. I’m not making fun of shit. yall just gotta stop trying to gatekeep a religion that was here before any of us were even born. stfu.”
Others criticized the single’s rollout, which has several spectators scrutinizing him as a “troll.” He’s responded to those accusations with a series of posts, including one claim that he’s enrolled in Biblical studies at Liberty University, and another being a snippet of a demo titled “1-800-Call-God.”
“I like how the world decided I am mocking, when I literally have been working on a gospel album?” he wrote on an Instagram story attached to the demo teaser.
It’s not clear whether these themes will carry into the entirety of Nas’ upcoming record — the follow-up to his 2021 debut album “Montero” — but there’s no denying the controversy surrounding his visual narratives continues to be a conversation starter.