Lil Nas X keeps raising the stakes with each new single. The “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” star paired his latest release with the Bail X Fund, a fundraiser for The Bail Project, a national organization committed to ending cash bail.
An anthem for the underdogs, “Industry Baby,” is set in the fictitious Montero State Prison. A prelude video to “Industry Baby” had Lil Nas X again playing multiple characters, being sentenced in connection with the Nike lawsuit.
The YouTube video includes a donation banner for donations directly on that platform. As of Friday evening, the YouTube fundraiser raised close to $30,000 for the Bail X Fund.
In a statement on The Bail Project’s fundraising page, Lil Nas X called music his act of resistance. “Music is the way I fight for liberation,” explained Lil Nas X.
Acknowledging the personal toll incarceration can bring to Black families, the artist encouraged supporters to donate. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works,” said Lil Nas X. “Starting with cash bail.”
His statement also highlighted the stories of people featured as a part of The Bail Out The South campaign. The Bail Project has committed additional resources and support for people in detention in the deep south.
In recent years, the movement to end cash bail has picked up steam. Proponents of bail reform argue that pre-trial detention conditioned on the ability to pay creates a tiered system that criminalizes poverty.
According to the Pre-Trial Justice Institute, bail amounts are disproportionately higher for Black and other people of color than their white counterparts. Inability to pay bail has been found to correlate to an increased likelihood of incarceration and longer sentencing.
Despite the clear injustice, Bail Bonds groups across the country generally oppose reforming the system as it cuts into their profit margin. It is estimated pre-trial detention costs communities across the country over $13 billion each year.
Like The Bail Project, bail funds fill in the gap but are not a replacement for actual reform, including ending the cash bail system as a whole. According to The Bail Project, the organization has raised over $47 million and assisted more than 17,000 people around the country.
While some on social media wonder if the artist known for his creative flair and provocative storytelling leans toward abolition, it is clear that he is willing to use his name and brand for a powerful cause.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” Lil Nas X continued. “Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
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