Since seemingly appearing out of nowhere in 2019 to dominate the pop charts with his record-breaking “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X, 22, has been shaking up the culture, stirring up controversy, and starting up conversation all over social media and beyond with his boundary-pushing performances, style, and statements.
And all of this has been accomplished by Lil Nas X, who is already a bonafide gay icon and pop provocateur, even before his debut album, “Montero,” was released on Friday. It’s hard to believe, but this is LNX’s first proper LP, following the release of his 2019 “7” EP, which, despite its brevity, earned him a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.
Since its release, his new video from the album “That’s What I Want” has received nearly 2.5 million viral video views. The video contains a heady mix of football, young love, (safe) shower sex, a “Brokeback Mountain” camping trip, betrayal, boozing, and, yes, his now-infamous wedding gown.
Among all the craziness, the breakdown chorus is built around the emotional lyric, “I want someone to love me.” I’m looking for someone who needs me,” all set to a backbeat reminiscent of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”
Of course, the album’s title is derived from Lil Nas X’s real name — Montero Lamar Hill — as well as the flamenco-flavored single “Montero (Call Be Your Name),” which reached No. 1 earlier this year. Then came another hit, “Industry Baby,” featuring another young rapper, Jack Harlow.
And, based on the other A-list guests on “Montero,” Lil Nas X has a lot of star power. Miley Cyrus (there’s also a new video for their duet, “Am I Dreaming”), Megan Thee Stallion (“Dolla Sign Slime”), Doja Cat (“Scoop”), and even the legendary Elton John (“One of Me”) attend his coming-out party.
And eager fans have been waiting for Lil Nas X, who has been striking a pregnant pose in the promotional campaign in a gender-bending twist, to finally give birth to “Montero” (which features a nude Nas on its cover).
One fan even tweeted, “lil nas x carrying real low, so I think it’s a boy.” Meanwhile, another fan teased that “all that’s going to play in my car is this album right here IT WILL BE THE ONLY THING.” @LilNasXGivesBirth #LilNasXGivesBirth I’m in love and haven’t even heard the half of it.”
That’s a lot of love for an artist before his debut album has even been released.
But Lil Nas X has been breaking the rules since he decided to combine hip-hop and country — and Miley Cyrus’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus — on “Old Town Road,” which led to the song topping the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking 19 weeks.
In the midst of the “Old Town Road” phenomenon, Lil Nas X did something even more courageous: he came out in June 2019 — during Gay Pride Month — despite being a member of the notoriously homophobic hip-hop world.
LNX has been making more daring moves this year, releasing his “Satan Shoes” in March, a custom pair of black-and-red Nikes containing a drop of real human blood. And he was back in the spotlight for his “Montero (Call Me Your Name)” video, in which he rode a pole down to hell and lap danced with Satan himself.
On the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” in May, Lil Nas X turned up the homoerotic heat even more, though a wardrobe malfunction prevented him from going full “Hustlers” on everyone. Then, in his “Industry Baby” video, he changed from a pink prison jumpsuit to his birthday suit.
Lil Nas X was without a doubt one of the highlights of last Sunday’s MTV VMAs, performing a medley of “Industry Baby” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” the latter of which deservedly won the top Moon Person for Video of the Year.
But LNX had barely celebrated his victory when he was back on the red carpet of the Met Gala Monday night, turning heads and opening minds with three different looks that found him continuing to challenge the old ideals of male pop-star sexuality and masculinity.