Lil Nas X says awards shows have a long way to go before they are fully inclusive.
The 23-year-old rapper shared his hope things will improve at the 2022 Songwriters Hall of Fame gala Thursday night (16.06.22) in New York City, where he was honoured with the ‘Hal David Starlight Award’, which pays tribute to young songwriters whose work is impacting the music industry.
He said: “I think we have a long way to go in some places, but I feel like the world is definitely trying its best to change in many ways.”
The comment came after the Grammy-winner hit out at the Black Entertainment Television network.
It announced nominations for this year’s edition of its long-running awards show but he received zero nominations
He said in now-deleted tweets: “Thank you BET awards. An outstanding zero nominations again. Black excellence!”, before going on to argue the move highlighted a larger trend of exclusion and erasure of queer black artists by black spheres of power.
He also tweeted: “This not over no bet award this is about the bigger problem of homophobia in the black community, y’all can sit and pretend all u want but imma risk it all for us.”
Lil Nas X then emphasised the limitations around self-expression often imposed on queer artists and argued other black queer rappers such as Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator, were “more respected when they do less feminine things”.
In his new track dubbed ‘F*** BET’, Lil Nas X also appears shirtless and raps about being snubbed, while listing his accolades as a chart-topping artist.
But in a statement to Entertainment Tonight, the network explained the nomination process while vowing it is committed “to using all of our platforms to provide visibility and inclusion for all of the many intersections of the Black community”.
It added: “We love Lil Nas X. He was nominated for a ‘Best New Artist BET Award’ in 2020, and we proudly showcased his extraordinary talent and creativity on the show twice: he performed ‘Old Town Road’ with Billy Ray Cyrus at ‘BET Awards 2019’ and his ‘BET Awards 2021’ performance was a highlight of our show. No one cheered louder that night than BET.
“Unfortunately, this year, he was not nominated by BET’s Voting Academy, which is comprised of an esteemed group of nearly 500 entertainment professionals in the fields of music, television, film, digital marketing, sports journalism, public relations, influencers, and creative arts... at BET, we are passionate advocates for the wonderful diversity that exists within our community.”
Lil Nas X responded: “These are literally just buzz words placed together.”