Lil Nas X debuted his newest single MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) and its music video this weekend and it was immediately met with criticism over the religious themes present in his video that clash with the story his song and video is trying to tell.
The video follows the story of Lil Nas X playing the role of Adam from the biblical story of Adam and Eve, where the sin snake presents itself as a physical embodiment of homosexuality that hypnotises him and proceeds to kiss him repeatedly. The second verse then shows Lil Nas X on trial in a colosseum where he is shackled and stoned by CGI on lookers. His character dies and as he is leaving to go to heaven a stripper pole appears and he slides down it while wearing a red wig, thigh high boots and boxer shorts until he arrives in Hell and gives the devil a lap dance then kills him and takes over as Satan himself.
On a surface level the music video seems ridiculous but the song and imagery in the video tells a very striking story that impacted Lil Nas X when he was growing up in the closet.
The song’s narrative is about Nas X’s lover not wanting to be associated with him in public and how it impacts Nas X but is dripping in symbolism. With lyrics like ‘Call me by your name tell me you love me in private call me by your name I do not care if you’re lying’ it shows an imbalance of respect and honesty in the relationship while also symbalising the disconnect Nas X had with his sexuality as a teen in the closet and early stages of his career. This is further shown by the song’s title MONTERO as that is Lil Nas X’s real name.
Lil Nas X came out as gay in 2019 and became one of the first mainstream black gay rappers in Hollywood.
His newest song includes sexualized lyrics describing the life he wants with his lover which has seen critics say his crude remarks are inappropriate due to the large young audience he gathered from his previous single Old Town Road as it pushes a ‘gay agenda’.
Although the complaints about his crude lyrics and child fanbase can be justified Lil Nas X stated on Twitter:” There was no system involved. I made the decision to create the music video. I am an adult. I am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children. that is your job [as parents].”
In rap especially male rappers will create extremely crude sexual lyrics involving women and on the large scale most media critics ignore it. Whereas when LGBT+ artists and female rappers such as Lil Nas X, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B sing similar lyrics they’re hounded as pushing an agenda of homosexuality or encouraging women to become ‘sluts’. Their lyrics at their core are about being able to say I find my lover attractive and that is okay, I enjoy sleeping with my lover and that’s okay.
Lil Nas X’s song and video’s message is ‘I am gay and if I’m going to hell because of who I love then I’m going to embrace it as much as I can as I am now happy and free as the real me.’
The erasure in the media of his song’s message is similar to the treatment Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s song WAP received. The song and its video was filled with hyper-sexual lyrics and images but again, at its core the song was saying ‘women enjoy sex and that’s fine and normal you shouldn’t have to be ashamed of enjoying a normal human experience.’
As sex-positive women and LGBT+ artists continue to be hounded by the media for pushing false messages their real intentions are often pushed aside. As more and more empowered musicians release music it causes controversies as well as much needed conversations about their messages.