New Lil Nas X single stirs up controversy

Niamh Quinlan

i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”

22-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter and openly gay cultural icon Lil Nas X tweeted on March 27th. The day before, he released a music video for his new song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”, which has received some backlash for its visual content.

The video stars Lil Nas X and uses biblical imagery in bright, almost psychedelic CGI.

The rapper is in the garden of Eden where he plays Eve or Adam or some combination of the two, the snake that traditionally gives the apple, a man in chains in a Colosseum (portraying Christians who were tried for their faith in Roman times), before he finally falls to hell via a pole and performs a lap dance on Satan himself.

The song title, “Montero”, is actually the rapper’s real given name – his Christian name. The “Call Me by Your Name” subtitle and lyric comes from the movie of the same name, about two men who fall in love in the north of Italy.

The stark biblical images, references and artistic interpretation towards sexuality has received a lot of backlash from religious people, particularly Christians. Marco McKinnis, an R&B/Soul artist who is very open about his Christianity, said in a now-deleted tweet:

“I don’t understand how people can romanticize hell and satan like none of its real. I have been speechless all day because the reverence of God has truly been dissolving in this world.”

Lil Nas X collaborated with streetwear company MSCHF to make the “Satan Shoes”, a pair of Nike trainers based on the “Montero” music visuals, that also contains a drop of human blood.

South Dakota Governor and Republican, Kristi Noem said in a tweet: “Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it’s “exclusive.” But do you know what’s more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul.” She then called on people to fight against this and to fight to win.

One pastor from Tennessee, Greg Locke, called the footwear “devil-worshipping, wicked nonsense.”

However, Lil Nas X is standing his own ground on Twitter. When one user said that Lil Nas X was targeting children, the rapper hit back with “i am an adult. i am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children.”

Republican influencer Kaitlyn Bennet, known for parading her gun around Kent State University, expressed her negative feelings about the video and threw in a racist comment about Lil Nas X, who is black, about his father’s presence in his life. The rapper then retaliated by brining up the fact that Bennet defecated on herself at a party (which was caught on film) and said he would have sex with her father.

It’s unsurprising, however, that this kind of internet hate has an affect on Lil Nas X: “i’ll be honest all this backlash is putting an emotional toll on me. i try to cover it with humor but it’s getting hard. my anxiety is higher than ever,” he said in a tweet.

When the video first dropped, Lil Nas X tweeted this letter to his younger self:

In the face of this backlash, the rapper seems to not be backing down in defending himself, his sexuality and his art.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: YouTube