When it comes to pushing the boundaries, Lil Nas X is an expert. The rapper defied genre lines with his 2018 viral single “Old Town Road.” His music videos for singles like “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby” are provocative and game-changing, showing that not all rappers have to look or sound the same. Plus, his witty and humorous social media presence challenge the typical artist/influencer formula.
That defiant nature is a big part of the reason why the rapper exclusively tells Complex he was tapped to be the new U.S. ambassador of Yves Saint Laurent Beauté. In partnership with the high-end beauty brand, Lil Nas X is flipping the beauty industry upside down by challenging norms and “fearless, boundary-pushing” expression.
The new campaign includes the debut of YSL Beauté’s newest lip icon: Rouge Pur Couture: The Bold, which the brand defines as “a couture high pigment lipstick for those who aren’t shy.” The campaign will also tease a snippet of Lil Nas X’s unreleased song, “My Little Baby.” When asked how it aligns with the new campaign, Lil Nas X said the song fittingly touches on themes of beauty and individuality. “I thought it would be great for YSL because it’s a song that touches on not wanting people to see your insecurities and your flaws, and this campaign is all about flipping that and embracing yourself however you want to express that,” he said.
Unfortunately, Lil Nas says fans will “have to wait a little while to hear the full version of the song.” But, over a brief conversation on Zoom, the rapper did drop some details about the campaign, his upcoming world tour, and new music. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
How are you building your brand as an artist, and how does this align with the YSL Beauty campaign and partnership?
Building my brand is an ongoing process as I continue to try new things, but I’m all about having fun, standing out and making a statement, and creating great music. Everything I do is an extension of that, and I’m always looking for ways to break the mold—this partnership with YSL Beauty does that. I thought they were pretty cool and I loved the aesthetic that they were bringing. So I was like, “Yeah. Let’s do it.”
How do you defy beauty standards and boundaries in your art?
I’m always trying new things. Whichever outlet, whether I use music, visuals, fashion, or makeup, I completely dive in and indulge myself in it, to the point where I’m doing things that I haven’t done before.
What are some beauty trends you’re really digging right now?
Nothing too specific. I like the emo phase coming back in the younger generation. I think that’s definitely hot.
You recently dropped “Late to Da Party” in collaboration with NBA YoungBoy, which many fans thought to be unexpected. How did that come about?
“Late To Da Party” came about because I felt like it was already one of my more trap-leaning songs. I was like, “This is dope.” This is me kind of getting back to my roots almost of when I first started music. And I was like, “Who would be the person that anybody would least expect doing this song?” NBA YoungBoy. So, I got in contact with his people and somehow we made that work. It was just super dope.
Are there any other collaborations that you’re eyeing next?
I have some unexpected things, collaborations coming up. I wouldn’t want to ruin those, though.
Your social media presence is brilliant. How have you been able to stay your authentic self despite the hate you may receive from others?
In all honesty, it’s sometimes a struggle, but I always meant to find myself in the midst of everything happening online.
You’re heading out on the Long Live Montero Tour this September. What can we expect from your first major solo tour?
Without giving it away, all I can say is it’s more of a show than it is a concert.
Does that mean we could be getting some theatrical elements in it like we’ve seen in your music videos?
What else are you currently working on that you can speak about?
I do have something very special coming really soon around the time of my tour starting. That’s something I’m super excited about music-wise.
What do you want fans to get from this next chapter of music?
I wish I could say, but I feel like I won’t even know what this era represents until I’m further along. I’m very much a person that just goes along with the flow and does things as they come. But I’m sure it’s going to be something really special and really exciting.
What are some of your goals for the rest of this year?
My goals for the rest of the year is to stay out of my own head and out of my own way and just keep moving and not overthink things.
Do you find yourself overthinking a lot? Things seem to come so effortlessly in regards to your art.
I’ve gotten better, but I feel like life is a constant process of trying something new, and then getting over that hump, and you reach that new love for yourself. You have to do that again and again and again.