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Camila Cabello Says She and Lil Nas X Survived an ‘Extreme Situation’ the Night ‘He Knows’ Dropped

Camila Cabello and Lil Nas X had a “trauma bond” experience the night they dropped their collab, “He Knows.” 

The duo was about to head to West Hollywood gay club Heart to celebrate the song’s release when the elevator in Cabello’s building — packed with members of both artists’ teams, mind you — broke down. They were stuck inside for over an hour and everyone was, naturally, freaking out.

Well, not everyone. “Surprisingly, we were two of the calmest people in the elevator because panic attacks were happening left and right, honey,” Cabello tells Rolling Stone.

Now, the “I Luv It” singer can look back with a laugh and gratitude, since the experience brought her and Nas closer together. “It’s fun to collaborate with somebody like that because they’re going to put their dick in it,” says Cabello with a laugh. “We both put our dicks in this one.”

On Wednesday, Cabello and Nas will release the cinematic (and hilarious) music video for “He Knows.” Ahead of its release, Cabello caught up with Rolling Stone about working with Nas and gave a sneak peek of her album C, XOXO, out June 28.

This video is crazy. Walk me through the whole thing.
Initially, when Jasper and Pablo Diaz-Reixa and I were in a studio session in Miami, I was like, “I’ve never made something that felt housey and electronic before.” So they pulled up this Ojerime sample and I wrote, “He Knows.” When we were talking about who could be a fire feature on it, we immediately thought of Nas. He’s close friends with Jasper. We immediately were like, “We have to get Nas on this song because that would be the most iconic video.”

What happened with you two getting stuck in an elevator?
Girl… We saw each other in an extreme situation. Panic attacks were happening left and right, honey. To the right of me, Patrick Ta was fucking losing his mind. Tori, who works with me, was on the ground having a panic attack. People were dropping like flies emotionally, but me and Nas, we were cracking jokes — but were low-key terrified.

How long were you trapped?
We were in there for a good hour. It was crazy because it’s the elevator in my building and I walk into that elevator every day and I’ve never seen it the way I saw it that night. The mirrors were steamed up like it was a shower because it was so hot and there was no AC. Nas’ security guard is like, “I would keep the chatter to a minimum because you guys are about to start taking up all the carbon monoxide and that’s how people pass out.” Nas was like, “If we weren’t fucking panicking before, we sure are panicking now.” It was just so crazy. It brought us closer together though. Nothing like a trauma bond during a single release.

That was right before you went to celebrate at the WeHo club, Heart?
Yes. That was the day the song came out. We were an hour late to the club and we got there and we were like, “We’re getting black-out drunk. This is a celebration of not just our song, but the fact that we did not get carbon-monoxide poisoning today.”

How has your friendship with Nas evolved?
It’s really sweet. We’ve been supportive of each other’s careers and supportive of each other for years now. I remember meeting him backstage at the iHeartRadio Awards maybe five years ago when “Old Town Road” was big. He just kept evolving. He is unapologetically himself. He’s a true, fucking great artist… When he wrote his verse, I was so excited because he was so hesitant about doing features. He had never done a feature with anybody before, so we were like, “I don’t know if he’s going to say ‘yes,’” but I think he really resonated with the project and my album because he heard the whole thing and was excited about what we were doing.

He’s the kind of artist where it’s more than just the song. He really puts thought and care into the performance. He plays with the fans. He cares about the music video and making a statement.

I also saw the video of you performing “20 Somethings.” Can you share a little about how that song fits on the album?
As a songwriter, I wanted to explore themes of unresolved feelings and things that don’t have a neat ending. “And then we broke up and then I dumped him and now we’re great.” It’s very like, “Oh, maybe we will work. Oh shit, but I feel so bad when I’m with you. Fuck, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Being able to explore that kind of gray area as a writer was something I hadn’t done before. Those feelings fight against each other and don’t make sense, but that’s what makes us human.

What’s it like exploring a sexier side on this album?
Well, I’m 27. It’s like I say in one song, “My tooth is getting long.” When you’re long in the tooth, you’re just getting older. You have more experience. I think it’s part of knowing myself more. Sometimes I see people be like, “Why is she suddenly being so sexual?” I really just do whatever feels natural for me. If it feels good, I do it. To me, my sensuality is just a part of who I am. Just like being emo is a part of who I am. It’s just all me being me.

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Can you give us a little tease on what’s going to be on C,XOXO?
This is the best project I’ve ever made, and I have never been so proud of a body of work. It’s just such a world. My favorite albums are when I really get to live in a lyric or live in an aesthetic of an album. She is really a complicated, exciting girl, C,XOXO. She really is.

I’m excited to meet her.
Yeah, I’m excited for you to meet her too.

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