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Meaning of ‘INDUSTRY BABY’ by ‘Lil Nas X’ feat. Jack Harlow

Released: 2021

Features: Jack Harlow

“INDUSTRY BABY” by Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow is a braggadocious anthem that serves as a defiant statement against the doubters who underestimated these artists’ staying power. The track is a celebration of their achievements and a declaration of their unshaken confidence despite challenges.

In the opening lines, Lil Nas X is making it clear he’s not an industry fluke. The “couple racks, ayy, couple Grammys on him, couple plaques, ayy” is him flaunting his success and wealth, with racks referring to stacks of money and plaques to the certification awarded to a song or album that reaches a certain sales threshold. When he says, “And this one is for the champions,” it’s a shoutout to those who keep winning against all odds, much like him.

What’s striking in this track is Lil Nas X’s unapologetic assertion of his homosexual identity in the rap industry, which is known for its heteronormativity. When he raps, “I don’t fuck bitches, I’m queer,” he is confidently living his truth amidst an industry that has historically marginalized queer artists.

Jack Harlow’s verse contrasts with Lil Nas X’s flamboyant confidence but carries a similar theme of self-aggrandizement. He speaks on his own success and the respect he’s earned, evidenced in the line “OG so proud of me that he choking up while he making toasts.” He’s letting everyone know he’s acknowledged and respected in the game. The line, “Turned my haters to consumers, I make vets feel like they juniors,” Harlow is suggesting that he’s made even the most experienced rappers feel like novices via his success.

Finally, the refrain “I told you long ago on the road, I got what they waiting for,” is the crux of the song. It’s a reassurance to fans and a challenge to doubters that both artists are here to stay and dominate the hip-hop industry, hence “I’m the industry baby.”

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