The holiday season has been out of the ordinary for a multitude of reasons this year, but Lil Nas X is still finding ways to share some of the holiday spirit. The “Old Town Road” rapper returned with a new single called “Holiday,” and now he’s performing at Holiday Plays, a multi-day virtual event.
The special, which kicked off on December 8 and concludes tonight, includes intimate performances from some of the biggest stars in music. Miley Cyrus opened the first night of with live renditions of “Prisoner,” “Midnight Sky,” and “Plastic Hearts” off her newly-released album Plastic Hearts. Lil Nas X transformed into his Christmas alter ego Saint Nas for a performance of “Holiday.” And the Foo Fighters will wrap up the finale this Tuesday.
Beyond the holidays, Lil Nas X is already looking to 2021. He tells Complex that he has been working on a new album as well as accompanying visuals that he can’t wait to share with fans. “I think people should know that 2021 is going to be one hell of a year for me,” he warns. “Not just musically, but in every way.”
Over a brief phone conversation, Lil Nas X shared some of his plans for the next year, details about Amazon Music’s Holiday Plays specials, and his position in rap right now. The interview, lightly edited for clarity is below. You can check out Nas’ finale performance on Holiday Plays at 8 p.m. ET on December 15 via Amazon Music, Twitch, Prime Video, or On-Demand.
What have some of the challenges been for you hosting a virtual special?
I feel like a lot of the creative was done over Zoom, which was a bit hard. And my creative director for the show, he had to stay in London.
What can fans expect from the performances?
I mainly stayed in the character of Saint Nas the entire time. Even on the stage, which was just a slightly different version when I perform. I had that whole pink thing going on.
How did you come up with the Saint Nas character?
It kind of came to me because my first single was already going to be “Holiday,” and I was trying to think of a nice video idea. And I went through a couple of them, but nothing really fit for me. And then it kind of made sense. It's like, okay, it's going to come out around November. It's the holiday season. And I feel like Santa hasn't really done much, especially in music. Nobody's ever taken on the role of Santa. It’s like songs about it and whatever, but I thought that would be super good. So I did that.
“Holiday” is your first original single of 2020. Why did you choose to release this single following your historic 2019?
Of course, you know, with the timing, and how the video is and the character that I'm portraying... I feel like it’s also a great recap of everything that has happened in 2019 and moving forward.
How have you dealt with the pressure and expectations of releasing music after “Old Town Road?”
Sometimes the things people say will get in my head or whatever, but I kind of realized that I'm in control of my own destiny and that I'm a creative person. I'm always going to have big moments, and I'm not really afraid of what's going to happen, because I know it's going to go great.
Is there anything that you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Yes, of course. Definitely. My album as a whole. The singles and the music videos that are going to be around them. The moments I'm going to create with each one of them. Some features that I'm working on with other artists. I'm just excited about the entire process and even releasing music again.
“I've got support from actual rappers themselves, but I feel like not due to the country thing, but more of me coming out. The support has waned slightly among actual hip-hop supporters, which I'm not surprised by, but that's life.”
What do you want your new music to say about you?
That I have new heights to reach and that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.
You’ve already accomplished so much in such a short span of time. What are the new heights you’re looking to reach?
I want to create new lanes within music. I want to have even bigger songs. I want to have huge albums. I want to have sold-out tours. I want it all.
Nicki Minaj shared a picture of your viral Halloween costume on Instagram and shouted you out on Twitter. Have you all had any other contact with one another?
We have not.
Who is next on your bucket list of collaborations?
I want to make a song with Jack Harlow. He's cool. Kid Cudi too. There's so many great artists coming out and emerging and reemerging right now.
Breaking out in the industry with a country-inspired single, have you felt supported by the rap community?
I'll say I've got support from actual rappers themselves, but I feel like not due to the country thing, but more of me coming out. The support has waned slightly among actual hip-hop supporters, which I'm not surprised by, but that's life.
Are you interested in recouping some of that support from the hip-hop community?
Not really. I'm just going to make the music that I make. If they come back, then dope, but I'm going to do me and thrive regardless. I'm not really too concerned with gaining their support back because I feel like if someone doesn't want to support you, then that's their place.
There’s been a lot of conversation about the Grammys this year. As someone who had a huge awards season last year, what’s your take on the conversation?
I'm very thankful for my own Grammy, but I feel like artists are already putting their own work into the world and they have their fans that accepted and they're proud of them. I feel like awards are dope and they're amazing to get, but it's never super-serious. As long as you have your own supporters, that's what really matters.
What’s the most important thing people should know about you right now?
I think people should know that 2021 is going to be one hell of a year for me. Not just musically, but in every way