What makes for an effective clapback? Is it how brutal of an insult you can level at a person? How quickly you respond? How easily you take your opponents words and use them for your own gain?
While there are likely dozens of criteria for what makes a comeback so sweet, there is one musician who has mastered the art of responding to his haters — Lil Nas X. Throughout his career, the superstar has been subject to plenty of attention for his exhibitionism and showmanship as an openly LGBTQ entertainer. When that attention turns negative, Lil Nas is the first person to defend himself — and to make an example out of whoever is on the other side.
From fellow rappers to U.S. government officials to anonymous trolls, Lil Nas X has never been known to spare his criticism. Below, Billboard takes a look at 10 times when Lil Nas X showed us all the beauty of the clapback.
The Time He Asked Why a Conservative Host Was So Pressed Over a Crop Top
A recent example of Lil Nas X’s skills as a comeback artist came when conservative television host Greg Kelly called the rapper a “little FOOL with zero talent,” and said the star’s performance at the 2022 Grammys was an act of “PUBLIC LEWDNESS.“
The rapper, after spending years being called out for sexually explicit videos and lyrics, responded by saying he was simply confused that Kelly was this upset over what he was wearing. “damn greg all i did was wear a crop top this time,” he tweeted with two crying face emojis.
The Time He Told a U.S. Governor to Stop Worrying About Him and “Do Ur Job”
At the height of Lil Nas X’s “Satan Shoes” controversy in March 2021, it seemed that just about everyone was weighing in. One such person was Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, who cited Lil Nas’ promotion of the shoes as a “fight for the soul of our nation,” while claiming she was worried about the “God-given eternal soul(s)” of America’s children.
Nas was having none of it, and called out Noem for caring more about his special sale than her role in the U.S. government. “ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes,” he wrote. “do ur job!”
ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job! https://t.co/qaor6W0B9C
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 28, 2021
The Time He Put It All In Perspective For a Troll
Sometimes, it’s important to be given a reality check. When one particularly angry Twitter user called out Lil Nas X’s video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” as an attempt by the rapper to “destroy our society,” Nas was quick to correct him. “there is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop,” he wrote. “me sliding down a cgi pole isn’t what’s destroying society.”
there is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. me sliding down a cgi pole isn’t what’s destroying society. https://t.co/H21SMVnfNQ
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 26, 2021
The Time He Reminded Joyner Lucas That Being Kid-Friendly Isn’t His Job
Once everyone was talking about “Call Me By Your Name,” “I’m Not Racist” rapper Joyner Lucas decided to throw his two cents in, writing in a since-deleted tweet that because children loved “Old Town Road,” he was disappointed to see the rapper release “some left-field ish” that kids would then watch. Nas, though, was quick to remind Lucas that his record-breaking single wasn’t necessarily meant for children either. “i literally sing about lean & adultery in old town road,” he wrote. “u decided to let your child listen. blame yourself.”
i literally sing about lean & adultery in old town road. u decided to let your child listen. blame yourself. https://t.co/gYmTi49BqB
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 29, 2021
The Time He Dunked on a Conservative Author’s Sex Drive
Conservative author Nick Adams wanted to let Lil Nas X know that the rapper wasn’t as smart as he thought he was, tweeting that neither Nas nor Cardi B could “last 30 seconds on a debate stage” with conservative commentator Candice Owens. Naturally, Lil Nas saw an opening and couldn’t help himself: “u can’t last 30 seconds in bed with your wife,” he wrote back.
u can’t last 30 seconds in bed with your wife https://t.co/6mFCJlceWb
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 29, 2021
The Time He Pointed Out How Hypocritical Homophobic Christians Can Be
Sometimes, a good clapback isn’t aimed at any one particular person, but at an entire group of people. Following the flood of conservative Christian outrage over his Satan-inspired “Call Me By Your Name” video, Lil Nas X couldn’t help but point out that he was doing exactly what homophobic Christians had been telling him to do for years, tweeting, “y’all love saying we going to hell but get upset when i actually go there lmao.”
y’all love saying we going to hell but get upset when i actually go there lmao
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 26, 2021
The Time He Called Out the Double Standard Between Straight & Queer Rappers
One Twitter user decided to try and make some circuitous logic work when he claimed that Lil Nas X’s music and videos were “causing young men to die from AIDS,” despite the fact that Lil Nas X would go on to raise nearly half a million dollars toward fighting HIV and AIDS.
The rapper took issue with this point, taking the time to call out bigotry when he saw it. “y’all be silent as hell when n—as dedicate their entire music catalogue to rapping about sleeping with multiple women,” he said. “but when i do anything remotely sexual i’m ‘being sexually irresponsible’ & ‘causing more men to die from aids’ … y’all hate gay ppl and don’t hide it.”
y’all be silent as hell when niggas dedicate their entire music catalogue to rapping about sleeping with multiple women. but when i do anything remotely sexual i’m “being sexually irresponsible” & “causing more men to die from aids” y’all hate gay ppl and don’t hide it. https://t.co/ZiwbYcIH5l
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) July 25, 2021
The Time He Trolled Boosie Badazz for His Homophobic Slurs
If there was one person who had a lot to say about Lil Nas X in 2021, it was Boosie Badazz. Over the course of a few months, Boosie leveled a number of homophobic comments, including threats of physical violence, against Lil Nas X. While the Nas could have easily escalated the situation by directly responding, he decided to toy with Badazz, putting out a tweet linking to his “response” video, saying, “i usually don’t respond to negativity from my peers. but this had to be said.”
Naturally, there was no response video — he was simply getting more people to watch “Industry Baby.”
i usually don’t respond to negativity from my peers. but this had to be said. https://t.co/j4mJIYaCdB
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) July 29, 2021
The Time He Brought 6ix9ine’s Receipts
Badazz wasn’t the only rapper to make offensive comments about Lil Nas X. In March 2021, 6ix9ine decided to make a tasteless joke about the rapper by commenting “Lil nas x entered the chat” under a post about China using anal swabs to detect COVID-19. Lil Nas X decided to put 6ix9ine on blast by posting a video of himself in a ski mask, where he shared a series of messages sent to him by 6ix9ine asking if he wanted to meet up sometime. “this you?” he wrote over the video of the left-on-read messages.
this you ? pic.twitter.com/GBvc5Rxf8h
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) March 4, 2021
The Time He Couldn’t Help But Laugh At Benzino
Sometimes, the best way to clap back at someone is to simply point out how ridiculous they sound. That’s exactly what Lil Nas X did when rapper and TV personality Benzino complained about the artist’s BET Awards performance in which he kissed a male backup dancer, with Benzino saying he didn’t know how parents were supposed to “explain s–t like this to your kid.”
Lil Nas, tickled by the insinuation, called out Benzino for not knowing how to explain a kiss to his kids. “i’m sorry but the thought of n—as sitting their kids down in the living room and telling them gay people exist is so hilarious to me,” he wrote.
i’m sorry but the thought of niggas sitting their kids down in the living room and telling them gay people exist is so hilarious to me https://t.co/8ESprtirAy
— MONTERO (@LilNasX) June 30, 2021