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Music / Lil Nas X

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I caught it bad yesterday
You hit me with a call to your place
Ain't been out in a while anyway
Was hopin' I could catch you throwin' smiles in my face
Romantic talkin'? You don't even have to try
You're cute enough to fuck with me tonight
Lookin' at the table, all I see is weed and white
Baby, you livin' the life, but nigga, you ain't livin' right
"MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)"

Montero Lamar Hill (born April 9, 1999), better known as Lil Nas X, is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, and Internet personality. He's recognized for his meme-heavy online presence (mainly through Twitter) and becoming one of the foremost pop artists of the 2020s following the breakout viral success of his Country Rap single "Old Town Road", which blew up with help from TikTok.

Released at the end of 2018, "Old Town Road" first gained traction the following year and began climbing up the Billboard country chart. The magazine then controversially removed the song from the chart, claiming that it did not adopt enough elements of the genre to be classified as country. However, using the ongoing buzz and conversation to his advantage, Lil Nas X released a remix of the song with none other than Billy Ray Cyrus, and both versions of the song wound up peaking at #1 on the general Hot 100, famously holding Taylor Swift's comeback single "ME!" from the top spot and staying at that spot for a collective, record-breaking 19 weeks.note 

Lil Nas X's career continued from there by transitioning into a more mainstream pop sound with elements of trap, R&B and rock. He released his first EP 7 in late June 2019, and made headlines just over a week later (on the last day of the month, which is recognized as Pride Month) when he came out as gay, becoming one of the most prominent black male artists in the LGBT community. His next release was his debut album MONTERO, wherein most of its singles ("MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)", "Sun Goes Down", "Industry Baby" and "That's What I Want") show him explicitly talking about his sexuality and/or his experiences coming to terms with it for the first time. This subject matter and the imagery associated with it have elicited both widespread praise and controversy — which he often uses as further marketing.


Lil Nas X and his music provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Ascended Meme: During the infamous "Storm Area 51" movement of summer 2019, a crowdfunding campaign sprung up asking for him to perform the song as marching music for the "invaders." Nas X embraced the joke with great enthusiasm, saying that he would gladly perform at Area 51 "for free."
  • Boastful Rap: "Sonic Shit", where he raps about his internet fame pre-"Old Town Road".
  • Buffy Speak: On the "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" single, the a cappella and instrumental versions are respectively subtitled "But Lil Nas X Makes All The Sounds With His Mouth" and "But Lil Nas X Is Silent The Entire Time".
  • The Cameo:
    • Chris Rock, Vince Staples, Rico Nasty, Diplo and YoungKionote  all have appearances in the "Old Town Road" official music video.
    • Colton Haynes plays the prison guard in the music video for "Industry Baby," but contrary to popular belief, the Samoan inmate in the yard scene is not Jason Momoa.
    • Billy Porter plays the pastor in the music video for "That's What I Want".
    • Lil Nas X himself makes an appearance in the first episode of The Muppets Mayhem as himself, being interviewed for a documentary on Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
  • Closet Key: What he aims to be towards his closeted gay lover in "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)".
  • Continuity Nod: During the video for "Holiday", Lil Nas X (as Santa Claus) flies past a version of Mt. Rushmore with the four faces representing his own appearance in the last four music videos: "Old Town Road", "Panini", "Rodeo" and "Holiday" itself.
    • In the "Industry Baby" music video, a prison guard is seen watching the Montero (Call Me By Your Name) video, and licking his lips.
  • Cool Car: Santa's sleigh is reimagined as this in the video for "Holiday", complete with robotic deers pulling it.
    • He himself is named after the Mitsubishi Montero, a car his mother always wanted.
  • Country Rap: "Old Town Road" is a unique take on this.
  • Crown of Horns: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", the Devil's horns are actually a headband.
  • Crown of Power: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", Lil Nas X takes and wears the Devil's headdress, gaining his powers.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the video for "Panini", Skai Jackson at one point visibly mouths "what the fu-" before the camera cuts back to Lil Nas X air dancing using a jetpack.
  • Cyberpunk:
    • The video for "Panini" takes place in a metropolis which wouldn't be out of place in Blade Runner, featuring neon-colored hologram ads (many of which are of Nas X himself), robots, and hovering vehicles.
    • The video for "Holiday" has a similar feel, crossed with a Christmas aesthetic.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", Lil Nas X easily takes out the Devil himself with a Neck Snap.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: In the music video for "THATS WHAT I WANT", Lil Nas X learns that the man he loves is married to a woman with whom he has a child. He then drinks wine straight from the bottle, alone in his house, until he passes out.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Some of the lyrics in his earlier works have him rap about being attracted to women. For example, he boasts that his life is "bull-riding and boobies" in "Old Town Road", and refers to his "baby girl" (who isn't a literal child) in "Rodeo". After his coming out, he would be much more open about being into men, with lyrics like "I don't fuck bitches, I'm queer" in "Industry Baby", which can make these older lines feel out-of-place coming from his mouth.
  • Either/Or Title: "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)". The "Either" part is the Title Track, while the "Or" is how the song was originally announced.
  • Gayngst: Sings about going through this in his youth in "Sun Goes Down".
  • Gay Cowboy: After coming out, he began leaning into this aesthetic. It reached its pinnacle when he wore a hot pink Prada cowboy suit to the Grammys in 2020.
  • Genre Mashup: Lil Nas X spends much of 7 blending all sorts of different sounds together. Travis Barker even shows up to do some punk rock drumming on "F9mily (You & Me)".
  • Heavenly Concentric Circles: "Montero (Call Me by Your Name]" opens with an Establishing Shot of a heavenly plane. It's covered by cloud formations arranged like dashed rings spinning around the rising sun. This arrangement evokes a feeling of holiness and purity.
  • Hell Has New Management: The video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" ends with Lil Nas X killing the Devil with a Neck Snap and taking his crown.
  • Honey Trap: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", Lil Nas X seduces Satan with a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his crown.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!invoked: Discussed in "Panini", acknowledging how a good portion of his initial underground fans turned on him once he became an overnight sensation. While he's frustrated by their reaction, he isn't willing to give up the fame just for them, but he does extend an olive branch in hopes that they'll change their mind and come back to support him again.
  • "I Want" Song: "That's What I Want" is one about his desire for a guy who likes him
  • Large Ham: Lil Nas himself: Most of his Twitter and personality in real life can be described as a shitposter, joking around and being incredibly playful with his popularity. The only time this wasn't the case was when he dead-pan tweeted that "Old Town Road" was just about horses and not some deep symbolism of gay sex following his coming out.
  • Macho Camp: As of the Montero album cycle, Lil Nas X has fully leaned into this aesthetic. He and the dancers he chooses for the visuals/performances are cut, chisled and very manly - but it's clear they are also gay and campy. The "Industry Baby" video takes place in a prison with gruff dudes, all while wearing pink.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", when Lil Nas X is mesmerized by the snake, his eyes turn the same shiny pale color as the snake's third eye.
  • Miniscule Rocking: At 4 minutes and 10 seconds, "Void" is his only song to date over 4 minutes. The majority of his songs are at least a minute shorter; both the original "Old Town Road" and "Panini" clocked in at just under two minutes. Played straightest by the interlude "The Art of Realization" at just 24 seconds.
  • Mock Hollywood Sign: The music video for "Holiday" has Lil Nas riding on Santa's sleigh, passing over a "HOLIDAY" sign, stylized after the Hollywood Sign.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Dancing down a stripper pole to hell only in boxer briefs and thigh-high boots, then giving Satan a lap dance in "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)".
    • A large portion of the video for "Industry Baby" involves him and other very muscular prison inmates dancing naked in the prison showers, censored by pixelation. A follow-up video purports to be the uncensored version, but just before it cuts to the naked dancers, it begins to buffer indefinitely.
  • Mr. Seahorse: In 2021, as part of the leadup to the release of Montero, Lil Nas X began posting photos and video of himself with a faux pregnant belly, with the child's due date scheduled for the same day as the album's release. This culminated in a sketch called "Lil Nas X Gives Birth" being released to coincide with the release of the album.
  • Neck Snap: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", Lil Nas X goes to hell, seduces Satan, then breaks his neck.
  • Power Gives You Wings: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", when Lil Nas X gains the Devil's power, he sprouts dark feathered wings from his back.
  • Power Glows: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", when Lil Nas X gains the Devil's power, his eyes glow solid white.
  • Product Placement:
  • Record Producer: His main producers are the duo Take A Daytrip, who held his first professional recording session (where they created "Panini") and have worked with him ever since.
  • Sampling:
    • "Old Town Road" samples the Nine Inch Nails track "34 Ghosts VI," which bizarrely gives NIN's Trent Reznor a songwriting credit on the biggest hip-hop song of 2019.
    • The chorus melody for "Panini" accidentally sounded so eerily similar to the chorus melody from Nirvana's "In Bloom" that Kurt Cobain ends up being posthumously credited as a songwriter.
    • His earlier song "Sonic Shit" from Nasarati is more-or-less built by sampling Lil Yachty's "NBAYOUNGBOAT" and sound effects from Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Satanic Panic: Reignited this in reactionary conservative media with his video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", which features him descending into hell and allowing himself to be free in the vices he's been consumed in. It also invoked a Gay Panic as said vices being addressed have to do with flamboyant sexual expression.
  • Screw Yourself: As a corollary of Acting for Two, in the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" Lil Nas X plays both the Adam/Eve figure and the snake seducing him, ending up with them kissing.
  • Self-Titled Album: A variant; Rather than being titled after his stage name, the song and album Montero are titled after his given name.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: He sang with Elmo on an episode of The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sky Face: In the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)", when Lil Nas X is running from the snake, he sees a face in the clouds.
  • Snakes Are Sexy: The snake in the video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" plays the role of a seducer.
  • Straw Fan: "Panini" is about a fan who became displeased with Lil Nas X after he suddenly gained national fame and recognition.
    Lil Nas X: Ay, Panini
    Don't you be a meanie
    Thought you wanted me to go up
    Why you tryna keep me teeny?
  • Stripperiffic: A Rare Male Example in "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)": Lil Nas X spends the latter half of the music video in nothing but boxer briefs and thigh-high heeled boots.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: The video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" ends with him willingly going to Hell on a stripper pole, giving Satan a lapdance, then killing him and taking his crown. The entire video serves as a Take That! to conservative Christian homophobia. If he's going to Hell, he might as well do it as fabulously as possible and take over in the bargain.
  • Winged Humanoid: The video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" features an angelic winged figure hovering over Lil Nas X, and at the end Lil Was X gains demonic wings on his back.
  • You Are Not Alone: Sings about bullying, homophobia, and Gayngst growing up, and assures others everything will be alright in "Sun Goes Down".


Video Example(s):


Montero - A Cappella

The a cappella version of "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)", which is aptly subtitled "(But Lil Nas X Makes All The Sounds With His Mouth)".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ACappella

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