You’ve likely been noticing the name Lil Nas X popping up everywhere in the last week or so.
Perhaps you were already familiar with the young rapper who shot to fame with his hip-hop/country mashup Old Town Road, or maybe it was the first time the 21-year-old from Georgia had entered your radar.
Either way, there’s a good chance that any conversation you’ve had or any meme you’ve seen recently has involved the young superstar — real name Montero Lamar Hill — and you might be wondering why.
If you are slightly puzzled about what all of the buzz is about then here is a complete breakdown of the events that led to Lil Nas X becoming the name on everyone’s lips:
Lil Nas X started teasing his new music via Instagram on March 10, sharing artistic images of himself and revealing that Montero (Call Me By Your Name) was going to drop on March 26.
On March 26, the rapper — who is openly gay — debuted the video for the aforementioned single and so began the controversy.
In the clip, which has since been viewed over 24 million times, the rapper plays multiple roles as he sings about the frustrations of having feelings for someone who is still in the closet and cleverly inserts himself into classic Christian tropes in order to reclaim the power that those very themes seek to rob the LGBTQIA community of.
Not Today, Satan
Music videos, by their very nature, are meant to be provocative — especially given that artists today need to cut through the cluttered landscape of TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Rizzle and all of the other social media trends you probably can’t keep up with.
Montero (Call Me By Your Name) is certainly provocative — and visually stunning — as it also features Lil Nas X sporting flame-red dreadlocks and thigh-high PVC boots as he descends from heaven down a pole…and straight into hell where he provides a lap dance for Lucifer himself before snapping his neck and assuming his horns.
Unfortunately, people immediately got so upset by this imagery (which occupies all of about 30 seconds of the three-minute clip) that no one was talking about how incredibly creative the rest of the video is and what an artistic triumph the hair, make-up and costumes are.
See for yourself below.
Story continued beneath video…
A Touching Tribute
On the same day that he released the Montero (Call Me By Your Name) video, Lil Nas X also posted a touching letter to his younger self on Instagram, explaining that although they had “promised to never come out publicly” they had written a song about a guy they met last summer and hoped to “open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.”
While the post itself was met with praise and support, the music video was steadily making waves and causing a few people to clutch at their proverbial pearls.
You’ve Angered the Gods (Apparently)
People cited the religious imagery, depiction of the devil and sexual undertones in the video as being what they took offence to, with some QAnon folk even going so far as to claim the clip was intended to desensitise children to the themes of Satan worship and pedophilia — two pillars of the conspiracy.
For his part, Lil Nas X responded to several of the Twitter uses who expressed concern, making the very valid point in one retort that “there is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. me sliding down a CGI pole isn’t what’s destroying society.”
there is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. me sliding down a cgi pole isn’t what’s destroying society. https://t.co/H21SMVnfNQ
— obamas cousin (@LilNasX) March 26, 2021
Just as Lil Nas X had predicted before the video dropped, members of the Christian Church also had something to say with the singer receiving criticism for using Satanic and Biblical imagery side-by-side.
Of course, things also got political with certain Republicans — the same types that were up in arms about WAP but are never up in arms about so many Americans being armed — being “shocked and offended” by the video and making it known as such.
The singer gave something of a blanket response to all of the comments, Tweeting: “I spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the sh– y’all preached would happen to me because I was gay.
“So I hope u [sic] are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”
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.
— obamas cousin (@LilNasX) March 27, 2021
Then Came the Shoes
In a world where everyone is offended by everything these days, people were bound to react to the video — just as they did with WAP — before forgetting all about it in the face of the next “offensive” thing.
The only problem this time was that the “next offensive thing” was also courtesy of the Call Me By Your Name singer.
Partnering with a Brooklyn based creative agency named MSCHF, Lil Nas X designed “Satan Shoes” which were custom Nike Airs that feature air bubbles containing a mixture of red ink and “one drop of human blood.”
I mean, was that any worse than Gwyneth Paltrow’s (exploding) vagina candles? I don’t know, but they were certainly more expensive at USD $1,018 a pop.
And, because Lil Nas X is apparently a master of both marketing and the law of supply and demand, only 666 pairs were made available.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, in particular, got into an online stoush with the rapper in response to the shoes, lamenting that “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. We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win.”
And, honestly, the worst part about all of that was the blatant missed opportunity to capitalise on the souls/sole wordplay that was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.
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.
We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win. https://t.co/m1k1YWFpuo
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 28, 2021
Here Comes the Lawsuit
It’s a good thing that the shoes were priced so high and sold out in a few minutes because it looks like MSCHF is going to need that cash to pay for a great legal team.
Nike had previously responded to the announcement of the footwear collaboration saying, “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them.”
Now, the sportswear company has filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York, with the claim that the shoes were produced “without Nike’s approval and authorisation,” and the company was “in no way connected with this project.”
Nike asked the court to immediately stop MSCHF from satisfying orders for the shoes and requested a jury trial to seek damages. Lil Nas X is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Incidentally, the Church of Satan also made it clear that they were in no way affiliated with the kicks, assuring a curious user that while the shoes were real, they “have nothing to do with us or Satanism or even Nike.”
And That Pretty Much Brings Us Up to Date (for Now)
The result of the lawsuit will obviously not be known for a while yet, but Lil Nas X seems to be keeping his spirits up Tweeting some self-deprecating posts about his impending ruin.
me after the nike lawsuit pic.twitter.com/XVLjHlSrru
— obamas cousin (@LilNasX) March 29, 2021
But perhaps the whole (literally) damned situation can be put to rest with these two Tweets from the Old Town Road singer:
— obamas cousin (@LilNasX) March 29, 2021
my bad bro @god
— obamas cousin (@LilNasX) March 30, 2021
But then again, probably not.