Industry Baby
by Lil Nas X (featuring Jack Harlow)

Album: Montero (2021)
Charted: 3 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Many dismissed Lil Nas X as a one-hit wonder after his 2018 rap/country smash "Old Town Road." Ignoring the skeptics, he continued to sell big while cultivating an image as a hedonistic and flamboyant queer rapper. "Industry Baby" finds Lil Nas flexing his success to all the naysayers and critics who doubted him.
  • And this one is for the champions
    I ain't lost since I've began, yeah
    Funny how you said it was the end, yeah
    Then I went did it again, yeah


    Lil Nas X told Apple Music the rap anthem captures his honest feelings of his place within the music industry and his personal growth. "I'm not rapping about somebody else's life, like, I'm not singing about somebody else's situation," he said. "This is me, and it feels so much better knowing that."
  • Ahead of the song's release, Lil Nas X shared a heartfelt letter addressed to his 20-year-old self, noting that he wrote the track "for us" and he needs to persevere. He writes of being ostracized in the country and rap communities because of his sexuality, the COVID quarantine "weighing heavy," and the fear that his career will stagnate after his initial success. Lil Nas concludes: "I need you to remember that the only person who has to believe in YOU is YOU."
  • Jack Harlow contributes a guest verse where he raps about handling his critics and boasts that he's here to stay. According to Harlow, Nas' people tried to cut his verse in half, but Jack refused. "I don't want to be the eight-bar novelty hip-hop feature," he told Rolling Stone.
  • Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow wrote the song with the New York production duo Take A Daytrip and trombonist Nick Lee (Gabriella Whited's "Bad Boy," Rachel Platten's "Soldiers").

    Take a Daytrip, comprising, Denzel Baptiste and David Biral, are Lil Nas X's go-to producers, having helmed his #1 hit "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)." They also co-produced this brass and bass-filled track with Kanye West.

    Speaking to Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Lil Nas X explained after he and his producers had been working on the song for around a year, he got to meet Kanye West. He played him some of the songs he'd been working on, and Kanye asked if he could add some things to "Industry Baby." West's contribution was beefing up the song with some horns and other stuff.

    "Just the acknowledgment from him or him even adding himself to that, that's a great look for all of us," said Nas. "So we're just really thankful for that."
  • Christian Breslauer directed the NSFW video, basing it on a story by Lil Nas X. Having been sent to the fictitious Montero State Prison for being gay, the rapper plots his escape and speeds away in a stolen police car as Jack Harlow raps in the back seat. Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes plays a security guard who, distracted by watching the "Montero" music video, fails to notice Lil Nas' prison break.
  • Lil Nas X performed the song live for the first time at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2021. Jack Harlow joined him on stage for the rendition. Nas won three awards, including the prestigious Video Of The Year gong for "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)."
  • Before Jack Harlow jumped on the song, Lil Nas sent it to Nicki Minaj. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, the "Old Town Road" rapper said he received no reply from Nicki.
  • Take a Daytrip's Denzel Baptiste told Billboard this originated with him asking Nick Lee if he could create something with his trombone "that sounds like a king is walking into a stadium or the Coliseum." Take A Daytrip filed away Lee's brass loop into their song ideas folder.

    A few months later during a session with Lil Nas X, things weren't going well; Take a Daytrip were feeling uninspired and Nas was upset at the criticism he was getting across the internet. Knowing that the rapper gravitates toward brass, they played him Nick Lee's trombone loop. According to Baptiste, Nas "immediately snapped into full inspiration mode and essentially freestyled the entire song."
  • The song climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated October 23, 2021, Lil Nas X' third visit to the summit and Harlow's first.
  • Nas X got to sing about having a "couple Grammys on him" at the Grammy Awards when he performed "Industry Baby" with Jack Harlow at the 2022 ceremony. He also did part of "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," which was up for Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year but lost to "Leave The Door Open" by Silk Sonic in both categories.
  • If you're wondering what "Industry Baby" sounds like sung by a female singer (including the rap interlude), check out the 2022 cover by the Israeli singer Noga Erez.
  • "Industry Baby" won for Best Collaboration, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual Effects at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards.

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