The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday April 23rd

Column: Everything you need to know about Lil Nas X's Billboard no. 1 single

Lil Nas X poses for a portrait at Cactus Cube Studio on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif. Photo courtesy of Kent Nishimura.
Buy Photos Lil Nas X poses for a portrait at Cactus Cube Studio on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in West Hollywood, Calif. Photo courtesy of Kent Nishimura.

If you’re anything like me, you may feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with the recent contention surrounding trending artist Lil Nas X’s most recent single – “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” That’s why I’m here to break it down for you.

"MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)," which rose to number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week, has been a highly anticipated release ever since Lil Nas rose to fame. What seems to have struck a collective nerve within many Christian denominations is the music video, wherein Lil Nas descends down a stripper pole into hell, eventually seducing – then murdering – Satan himself.

Critics from a range of religious backgrounds have had a hayday reaching for ways to critique the video, racking their minds over potential conspiracies to antagonize Lil Nas for his supposed stance on the devil.

Out of context, sexualizing a figure with such deep and negative religious connotations as the devil may seem offensive or obscene, which I can understand. What many fail to realize, however, is that Lil Nas didn’t spontaneously decide to publicize his alleged satanist lifestyle in some random music video for an unrelated song.

The true message behind the video is this: If accepting himself and his homosexuality means Lil Nas X will be damned to hell, so be it.

The video begins with a voiceover in which Lil Nas makes a metaphorical statement regarding his past. According to a recent tweet, Lil Nas once made a promise to himself that he would never come out. Now, it is clear that he openly embraces his sexuality without hesitation or fear of repercussion. 

Through the hellish theme of his music video, Lil Nas attempts to reclaim the damnations that supposedly come with self-acceptance and sexual realization within the LGBTQ+ community. 

This is a powerful, clever statement. To others who may be more traditionally religiously devout, it is a blasphemous, disrespectful one. But regardless of what we think, Lil Nas feels the opposite. He appears to be totally unbothered by the insane amount of backlash he has received, and he takes his humorous apathy to another level.

Naturally, Lil Nas did not stop with his music video. It almost seems as though he has fed off the hatred he’s received.

To further troll his haters, Lil Nas decided to release 666 pairs of exclusive human blood-infused “Satan shoes,” which unsurprisingly sold out in under a minute. Nike quickly sued the maker of the shoes in a federal trademark infringement lawsuit because the shoe design features a small, white Nike-style check mark. It was recently announced that Nike won the lawsuit, effectively shutting down all Satan shoe sales and Lil Nas’s plan to personally select a winner of the 666th pair.

I have yet to form a solid opinion on the roll out of the Satan-themed footwear. Still, I can’t help but commend Lil Nas for simply doing whatever he wants to promote his music and come to terms with his sexuality. 

What is most bothersome to me about the entire ordeal is the magnitude of backlash Lil Nas’ single has received in comparison to other seemingly controversial pop songs. For example, Rihanna’s hit song, “S&M,” which is blatantly about BDSM, was released when I was 8 years old. I vividly recall mindlessly bopping my head along to the rhythm and chanting the lyrics with my then 11-year-old sister. No one seemed to have a problem then.

And of course, plenty of other modern rap songs boast lyrics about sex, hard drugs and other "sinful" activities, yet they fail to receive the same level of hate. For this reason, myself and many of my peers have interpreted the backlash against Lil Nas as rooted in homophobia.

The nonstop evaluation of Lil Nas’ life, whether it be his artistic expression or recent coming out experience, is what many would call “fan behavior.” After all, he’s giving people something to talk about, and he was ultimately able to create a controversial song about gay sex that rose to the top song in the country and the number two song in the world.

If the March 26 release of “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” has taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing more controversial you can do than unapologetically being yourself. And if people want to talk about you – or even send you death threats for being true to yourself – let them eat cake.

For those interested, my honorable mentions of Nas’ pure unbotheredness include:

@leriggsb

arts@dailytarheel.com

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