Billy Porter not only gave Lil Nas X a big introduction before his MTV VMA performance, but he also brought out a marching band to play the triumphal brass portion of his popular song “Industry Baby.” The stage was transformed into the “Montero Prison,” where Nas performed alongside pink-jumpsuit-clad dancers, flouncing through his playful choreography until being joined by a latex-covered Jack Harlow, reenacting a scene from the song video. Nas followed Harlow’s bridge with further choreography inspired by the video’s famed shower scene (he donned a pink Speedo for modesty’s sake), before ending with a flourish of his other mega-hit “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
The timing of Nas’ VMAs appearance couldn’t be better. His debut album, Montero, is due for release in just six days. His performance caps a months-long rollout that included the releases of the controversial videos for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby,” a pregnancy announcement complete with a maternity shoot, and a slew of attention-grabbing performances on shows such as the BET Awards and Saturday Night Live.
For “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” Nas received five nominations, including Video Of The Year, Best Direction, Video For Good, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction. The video included a fantasy setting in which Nas went from paradise to a terrible underworld via stripper pole, where he offered a lapdance to a demonic ruler before slaying and supplanting him on the throne, drawing the ire of conservative pundits and old-school hip-hop enthusiasts.