Lil Nas X in his VERY saucy new music video (Pic: YouTube)
Cast your mind back to July 2019 when a little-known rapper by the name of Lil Nas X released the track Old Town Road with Miley’s Dad Billy Ray Cyrus on the perfectly judged drawling vocals. The track is a slow jam of a record that sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts for an immensely long period, record breaking run of nineteen weeks.
The song went to number one all around the world, also winning awards by the bucket load. As of January this year, Old Town Road had set a record as ‘the highest certified song ever by the RIAA with 14-times platinum status in the United States, meaning it accumulated 14 million in equivalent song units’.
Hitting huge numbers
At time of writing, Old Town Road has over 700 million views on You Tube and while it’s not particularly controversial, it drew some attention due to the fact that the genre was described as ‘country trap’ with Lil Nas X doing a touch of line dancing dressed a s cowboy.
Channel pure Brokeback Mountain in Old Town Road (Pic: YouTube)
One aspect of Lil Nas X that received rather less publicity was the fact that he is gay and he came out in June 2019 despite saying that he felt like he never wanted to. Like so many of us who cling onto the enveloping faux-safety of the closet, when we are finally let out we go full gay and Lil Nas X certainly did that.
Homophobia is rife in the rap community as well as the country community, both of which are dripping in toxic masculinity so the very existence of Lil Nas X straddling the two genres caused something of a problem almost straight away. Religion also plays a huge part in both and it’s no secret that god and the gays don’t make easy bedfellows.
At only 22, he has stated publicly that he had prayed to God as a teenager hoping that his homosexual feelings were just a phase but then came to not just accept it but embrace it.
This denouement of the coming to terms of his sexuality seems to have been manifested in an explosion of artistic, challenging queer creativity for Lil Nas X.
Smouldering cowboy in the Old Town Road clip (Pic: YouTube)
Like an enormous ‘fuck you’ to homophobes, haters and detractors, his single Montero (Call Me By Your Name) exploded from the literal depths of his unabashed, unashamed psyche, oven-ready to take them all on.
Lil Nas X’s Twitter clap backs are already legendary having honed his skills making memes as a teenager and becoming social media savvy in an increasingly digital world. It’s been barely two weeks since the release of Montero (Call Me By Your Name) and clapping back at criticism is something he not only would have been prepared for but also very much expected.
Dicing with the Devil in the Montero video (Pic: YouTube)
Why is that exactly? Well if any of you have been living under a rock, under a bridge, inside a sack with a blindfold on. The music video for Montero (Call Me By Your Name) has caused something of a storm. With hugely religious imagery, the rapper snogs the serpent in the Garden of Eden and ends up pole dancing his way down to hell where he lap dances for the devil before murdering him and snatching his crown. Yikes.
This understandably got SO many people’s knickers in a giant twist and the world was gagged by the boldness of this move. Nevertheless it’s already hit over 110million views, more that Justin Beiber’s latest release, in a shorter amount of time.
Across the board on social media, everyone has had an opinion about the furore the video has created. Even within the gay community itself there have been numerous calls that the clip is far too ‘in your face’ but isn’t that the point? By creating a stir and causing you to feel uncomfortable, it opens up a conversation asking you why. Why does I make you feel awkward to watch it? The queerness? The blackness? The religiousness? ALL THREE?
Lil Nas X thinking outside the box (Pic: YouTube)
Due to the religious content you had the religious right (which are a powerful and terrifying influence in the USA that Donald Trump tapped into to chilling effect) immediately recoiling in what must be the most obvious knee-jerk reaction in history.
Add to this his ‘Satan Shoes’ which were pure genius marketing. Again using demonic references, they sold out immediately, much to chagrin of Nike who slapped an injunction on the modified trainers which supposedly were made with a ‘drop of human blood’
Of course, all of this designed to wind up the religious right, the conservatives and the homophobes. He’s been attacked from all sides but takes it all on the chin, knowing that every mention of his name is a success and a step towards educating the fearful. With calls that he’s trying to forward the ‘gay agenda’, he says ‘no shit!’ whilst kids around the world see what a powerful gay man of colour looks like.