On Friday, Lil Nas X released his new single “J Christ” — complete with a video of him being strapped to a cross. Now, the pop star is addressing the backlash he’s faced for his Christianity-referencing rollout. In a video posted Monday, the singer apologized for some of his approach to promoting the music.
“This is not to try to get everybody on my good side or whatnot. This is more so to clear my head about my own decisions. I know I messed up really bad this time,” he said in the clip. “And I can act unbothered all I want but it’s definitely taking a mental toll on me.”
Lil Nas opened the four-and-a-half-minute video by saying he wanted to “explain where my head is at” and not necessarily apologize for “J Christ,” though he later said sorry for some aspects of his promotional tactics for the single. He explained that he knew his single artwork would lead to some people getting upset because “religion is a sensitive topic,” but that he never intended to offend with it.
“I didn’t mean to mock. This wasn’t a ‘Fuck you to you people. Fuck you to the Christians.’ It was not that. It was ‘I’m back like Jesus,’” Lil Nas said. “I’m not the first person to dress up as Jesus. I’m not the first rapper, I’m not the first artist, and I won’t be the last.”
The musician, who could be seen pacing around the same room during the video, then apologized for a TikTok video where he’s seen eating communion bread and drinking wine from a chalice while dressed as Jesus, saying he intended to “lighten the mood” with it, and not stir more controversy.
“I thought that was something we all wanted to do as kids and whatnot, but I didn’t understand the reality of how me eating the communion is the symbolism of Jesus’ blood and bones or something like that,” he said. “I did not mean it as a cannibalism thing or whatever the freak. But I do apologize for that. I will say I’m sorry for that. That was overboard.”
Lil Nas ended the video by saying that the symbolism in the music video for “J Christ” was supposed to prove that he wasn’t “trying to diss Christianity,” and that he hopes “we can move forward” from this.
“I was put on this Earth to bring people closer together and promote love. That’s who I am,” he said. “I’m not an evil demon guy trying to destroy someone’s values. That’s not me.”
“J. Christ” marks the beginning of a new album cycle for Lil Nas X, who dropped his hit debut LP, Montero, in 2022. That album also leaned heavily into religious imagery, though with a lot more devil worship that proved, well, controversial.
He gave the devil a lap dance (then broke his neck) in the music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and tried selling shoes containing drops of his blood; members of his team even told Rolling Stone that when Lil Nas X was booked to play the 2021 BET Awards, they had to confirm he wasn’t a “satanist or devil worshiper.”
“His urge to stand on the frontlines in defense of his own work — dismissing comparisons, insisting that there is a deeper meaning beneath the antics, that he isn’t just pulling the same gimmicks with a bigger budget — is understandable,” read commentary from Rolling Stone‘s Larisha Paul about the rollout for “J Christ.” “But at a certain point, the more time spent attempting to reason with people who have already decided they have no interest in understanding, or engaging critically, with a piece of art, the more this cycle of provocation and disproportionate reaction feels as old as the biblical stories all of these artists are evoking.”