Lil Nas X is hip hop’s new queer icon

Lil Nas X has unabashedly returned, with a new track and an agenda – one that pushes how we should authentically be ourselves and frankly, to stop trying to interfere with the lives of others. This is an arguably an agenda that many of us in the queer community can get behind. Yet it is obvious to see that Lil Nas X is not only embracing his own identity as a means of hoping to open avenues for others struggling with their sexuality, but also to ultimately drive this message home to the folk who have an issue with it. As you can gather, he is telling them to f*ck off. If Lil Nas X is “going to hell” for being unapologetically proud of his sexuality, then oh boy, he is showing us that he is going to own Satan.

‘Montero’ is the first single to be released since ‘HOLIDAY’ last year, and Lil Nas X has confirmed we will be seeing his debut album this year. “I think people should know that 2021 is going to be one hell of a year for me,” he said in conversation with Complex last year. “Not just musically, but in every way.” With the line “A dime and a nine / it was mine every week”, we see Lil Nas X reference his record-breaking nineteen weeks at #1 in the Top 100 charts with ‘Old Town Road’, and we see “God shining” on him – Lil Nas X’s good fortunes are clearly in abundance, and he does not hesitate to show us this with his new music, his social media presence and the absolute craft that is a Lil Nas X music video. At just 2:17 long, the one thing fans can agree on regarding ‘Montero’ is that it ought to be longer, but the track remains powerful, nonetheless. What stands out about Lil Nas X’s prior music is his hooks and his visuals – ‘Montero’ does not disappoint with either. ‘Call me when you want / Call me when you need / Call me out by your name / I’ll be on the way’ comes in as the chorus with a punch, accompanied by various percussions; it pulls away from the more melodic, slow verses and leaves you continuing to sing it for hours after you’ve heard the dream.

Image: Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia Records

The accompanying video, released simultaneously and directed by Tanu Muino (and Lil Nas X himself), has a lot to unpack. For a start, Lil Nas X fulfils every role in this ethereal video; he plays an alien-esque serpent in the Garden of Eden before being taken to trial for his “sin”, he is then shackled in chains and absolute glamour as he faces judgement, then ultimately provides us with an exceptional pole dance down to hell before Montero’s character faces Satan himself. Watch the video for yourself – it’s clear to see that when it comes to condemning homosexuality and queer identities in the name of religion, Lil Nas X has no time for it in 2021. Montero Hill is going on a journey to open doors for the members of his community. We saw the power that WAP brought to women in the industry, now we are presented with that same energy for the music industry’s LGBTQI+ community too.

While there is the chance that the track’s title and contents could be referring to the 2017 film of the same name, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (starring Timothée Chalamet, and another actor we won’t mention by name), Lil Nas X has repeatedly denied this in interviews. His denial has mainly been the humorous retort, “do you mean lawsuit?”. So, for fans of the book and/or film, there is some evidence that the track is paying homage – but no sign that Lil Nas X will officially confirm this.

As said by Lil Nas X himself, the release of this track marks a new era for Montero Hill – and I think 14-year-old Montero would have been warmed, comforted and mostly proud of the man he has grown to be. ‘Montero (CMBYN)’, and the upcoming debut album, LNX1, could spark a revolution for the LGBTQI+ community in hip-hop, and we are so ready for it.

All images courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment / Columbia Records