Lil Nas X Joins The Fight Against Cash Bail, Raises $21,000 For The Bail Project In Just Hours With New Song "Industry Baby"
The singer says he wants to use his music to fight for liberation.
July 25, 2021 at 6:59 pm
The video release for musician Lil Nas X’s new song “Industry Baby" included something not usually seen on celebrity music videos on YouTube...a donation banner.
The new video, which features Lil Nas X playing multiple characters and being sentenced to jail in connection with a Nike lawsuit, not only serves as artistic commentary on the judicial system, it also offers fans a chance to donate to The Bail Project, a nonprofit organization that pays bail for people in need, and works to end the cash bail system entirely. The gesture raised more than $21,000 in the first few hours of the video’s release and over $40,000 in its first forty-eight hours online with the number continuing to rise as the video gains traction.
In a statement posted directly in the YouTube donation box Lil Nas X says: "Music is the way I fight for liberation. But true freedom requires change in how the criminal justice system works, starting with cash bail.”
Cash bail refers to the system by which a certain amount of money is paid to get someone out of jail after their initial arrest for a crime. Critics of the practice point out that the practice essentially, criminalizes poverty, forcing those without the funds to spend months or even years in jail awaiting trial, even before they’re actually convicted.
The practice really came under fire after the death of Kalief Browder, who was held for three years, two of which were in solitary confinement, on Riker’s Island despite never having been convicted of a crime. He committed suicide at the age of 22, an act largely attributed to his traumatic experiences in Rikers while awaiting trial. In a New York Times article, just a year before his death Browder referred t himself as “mentally scarred” by the experience.
In 2016, Jay Z produced a six-part documentary series telling the young man's story, as Blavity previously reported.
According to CBS News 74% of people held in jails have not been convicted of a crime and the average bail bond amount for a felony is $10,000, an amount many families, particularly in communities of color, just can’t afford to pay. According to the Prison Policy Initiative more than 40% of people incarcerated without trial due to lack of cash bail are Black. The Bail Project website calls cash bail, "one of the key drivers of mass incarceration and structural racism in the U.S. criminal legal system."
“I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X said in his statement on YouTube, “and I know the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on Black Americans. There are so many stories that call on us to take action, and I invite you to join me in this important civil right issue."
The singer’s campaign put a particular emphasis on stories of people featured in The Bail Project’s ‘Bail Out the South’ campaign, which focuses on issues of cash bail in the Deep South. Southern states have some of the highest incarceration rates in the US, according to the nonprofit’s website, and nearly half of all African Americans incarcerated in the US are in jails in the south.