L.il Nas X wants to end the “gay era”. The American rapper wants, he recently announced on Twitter, back to the “cowboy era”. And preferably as soon as possible – when his first album “Montero” is finally released. By “cowboy era” he doesn’t mean the nineteenth century, but the year 2019. The pre-pandemic year, then, and the year in which he rode through a small American town rapping, accompanied by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus at the Guitar. No song was at number one on the Billboard charts longer than the two-minute short “Old Town Road”. Shortly thereafter, he came out as homosexual.
The “gay era” only began this year, when he made being gay the trademark of his music, producing one scandal after the other. For example, when he performed a lap dance for Satan as a fallen angel in patent leather boots in the music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”. And by the way with the New York artist collective MSCHF 666 pair of Nike Air Max with a pentagram and a drop of human blood in the soles and sold the pair for a thousand dollars. Or when he danced naked in prison with black inmates in the shower, also naked, for the “Industry Baby” video. And on the side raised money for a non-profit organization that finances bail for black prisoners. Or when he kissed one of his dancers on stage at this year’s BET Awards – an appearance that garnered almost as much attention as Madonna and Britney Spears did at the 2003 MTV Music Awards.
For a minute and 52 seconds America was united
Lil Nas X, real Montero Lamar Hill, is the provocateur of the hour. He deliberately raises the mood against himself: believers declare him to be the product of the devil; a sports brand is suing him for trademark infringement; Prisoners accuse him of not taking their situation seriously; and established rappers that all of this is probably no longer about good music. He denounces: Christian sexual morality, large corporations, the American judicial system, homophobia in hip-hop. He wants to polarize and is happy to take the risk of offending his own fans. Back to the cowboy year, what do you mean? Isn’t he so serious about his agenda?
The fact that Lil Nas X combined two seemingly incompatible American music genres back then – hip-hop and country – was a bold act and perhaps also the real reason for its success: the black and that seem to a melody as harmless and catchy as a nursery rhyme white America here for a minute and 52 seconds as if united. For his EP, little Nas was already rapping with big Nas, the child prodigy rapper of the nineties. It was his momentum. But then came the pandemic. As he told Variety magazine, it not only took away his moment, but also the self-confidence of this success: “I spent the whole time of the pandemic making music and crying – there was nothing in between.” And only one way out: to show yourself.
Please troll on purpose
For this he used the much larger stages of the Internet that were open to him this year. It’s no coincidence that Twitter (and not TikTok) is the 22-year-old’s favorite platform. He uses his followers to make friends and enemies: he asked them to tweet Billy Ray Cyrus in order to win him over to “Old Town Road” (he had previously bought the song for 30 or 50 dollars in a studio in Atlanta produces). Or gave them up to deliberately troll against him and thereby advertise him in other filter bubbles (a generator created tweets for it like: “This Satan crap is so sad! What the hell! I never let my kids get the new, outstanding hit single which is now available on all streaming platforms !!! “). For his music videos, the Ukrainian director Tanu Muino, who had previously shot with the rapper Cardi B, created the same hyper-feminine aesthetic for the young rapper. When the British pop singer FKA Twigs called him to say that the video for “Montero” was extremely similar to her video for “Cellophane”, he apologized most politely. Then she took him under his wing, she admired his work for the queer scene.
His strategy worked. After “Montero” was released, he explained in a video interview: “I thought to myself: I’ll bring this out and I will squeeze it out to the last bit. And I’ll make fun of it. Nobody’s going to beat me for this internet shit. ”The album is slated for release this summer. He already has the full attention.