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Filip Custic

Five on it: Lil Nas X’s ‘MONTERO’ is a powerful proclamation of queer sexuality

The new track and video from Lil Nas X is a safe haven for queer self-acceptance. Plus new music from BROCKHAMPTON, serpentwithfeet and more.

26 Mar 2021

If you were unaware, Lil Nas X has a real name. It’s “Montero”, and with his latest single, the viral country-rap sensation invites you to get better acquainted with the man behind the moniker. 

Since publicly coming out as gay in June 2019, Lil Nas X has unapologetically embraced his queerness in the face of his crossover fanbases of country and rap, two communities who – he remarked in a BBC interview the same year – were not overly accepting of homosexuality. After experiencing initial regret in the wake of his revelation, the growth in confidence in outwardly expressing his sexuality has culminated in his new release, ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ – the title itself nodding to the award-winning, coming-of-age film starring Timothée Chalamet. 

In a social media post accompanying the release, Lil Nas X wrote to his teenage self, recalling the fear of rejection that is still a sad reality for many LGBTQI+ people:

Dear 14-year-old Montero, 

I wrote a song with our name in it. It’s about a guy I met last summer. I know we promised to never come out publicly, I know we promised to never be “that” type of gay person, I know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist. 

“You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry,” he continues. “They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am. The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be”.

Brazenly incorporating Biblical references in the concept for ‘MONTERO’’s video (which he co-directed), Lil Nas X’s ‘Adam’ too succumbs to temptation in  dreaming of a male lover, before being transported to an ancient Greek colosseum to face trial by various versions of himself and be executed for his sins. Halfway to ascending to heaven, he ultimately opts for a dalliance with the devil, by way of a cheeky lapdance, of course.

To say I screamed when Lil Nas X began his long descent into the fiery underworld of Hell via a seductive pole dance is, simply, an understatement. Topped with thirsty lyrics, iconic symbolism and those thigh high boots, ‘MONTERO’ gloriously depicts a journey through the psyche of a person in denial of themselves, to enthusiastically choosing to embrace their desires.

“In life, we hide parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see,” reflects Lil Nas X in the voiceover intro. “We lock them away, we tell them ‘no’, we banish them. But here, we don’t. Welcome to Montero.” It’s a safe space for young queer folk to find their own way to self-acceptance.

And naturally this leads onto…

Lil Nas X – ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’

… the track in question. If there’s one thing that Lil Nas X has proved with his recent releases, it’s that his knack for a catchy chorus was not a mere one-time ‘Old Town Road’ wonder. There’s so much to love about this, from the unapologetic pop and flamenco touches, to the wild visual.

BROCKHAMPTON – ‘BUZZCUT’ (feat. Danny Brown)

They’ve been teasing us for what feels like an age, but BROCKHAMPTON have finally dropped new music – and what a treat that it’s a collab with Danny Brown! Back at their abrasive best following a handful of chilled singles from 2019’s GINGER, the oversaturated and chaotic video is directed by Kevin Abstract and Dan Streit.

Pink Sweat$ – ‘At My Worst’ (feat. Kehlani)

Back with a Kehlani-shaped refresh on their hit single, the new remix of ‘At My Worst’ is a sugary sweet moment that conjures thoughts of whimsical summer love with its laidback guitar work and beats. Conversing with Pink Sweat$ own smooth vocal, Kehlani’s verse is a charming addition.

serpentwithfeet – ‘Heart Storm’ (with NAO)

The third track plucked from new album DEACON – out today – ‘Heart Storm’ is an echoey and atmospheric collaboration with the wonderful NAO, whose angelic tones only reinforce the heavenly union the track depicts. Don’t we all want to experience the kind of love serpentwithfeet captures with his music?

Beabadoobee – ‘Last Day On Earth’

Lastly, comes Beabadoobee with her first single since the release of last year’s debut album Fake It Flowers. Leaning into that breezy 90s Britpop sound, ‘Last Day On Earth’ is about all of the things that Bea would have done had she known the world was going into lockdown. (We. feel. this).