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Students weigh in on the meaning and music of Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO”

On Sept. 17, rapper Lil Nas X released his debut album “MONTERO,” and students shared their opinion on the artist’s newest collection of songs.

Lil Nas X was first put in the spotlight with his hit single, “Old Town Road.” The remix with Billy Ray Cyrus made history on July 29, 2019 when it became the first song to last 17 weeks at number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. 

During his fast-pace climb to fame, Lil Nas X came out as gay in a tweet on June 30, 2019 the last day of Pride month. Since then, Lil Nas X has used his music to express himself and his sexuality, like in his album’s lead single, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” 

In an Instagram post, Lil Nas X shared a letter to his younger self. In the letter, he wrote, “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.”

Like the lead single, the album title, “MONTERO,” roots from Lil Nas X’s birth name of Montero Lamar Hill. The album has 15 songs on it, including the popular single, “INDUSTRY BABY” which features Jack Harlow.

“My favorite song on the album is ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),’” Jessica Wasik, a sophomore biochemistry major, said. “I think it’s the most popular song on the album and for good reason; it is so catchy.”

Wasik also took note of how each of the song titles on the album are capitalized.

“I think it represents a bolder message since the entire album is about expressing one’s own sexuality and normalizing different sexualities,” Wasik said.

Just a few weeks before the release of his album, Lil Nas X did a pregnancy shoot with a fake baby bump for People Magazine. Lil Nas X said that he was sporting the bump because the album was “his baby,” and him being pregnant represents the time and effort that was put into the album.

“I enjoyed how creative Lil Nas X got with the announcement of him being ‘pregnant,’” Wasik said. “Being vocal with one’s identity that is not considered the ‘norm’ is taboo, and Lil Nas X is brave for showcasing his true personality to the public; it could help a lot of people.” 

Samantha Stawowy, a senior psychology major, said Lil Nas X’s album is “what the community needed.”  

“My favorite song on the album was ‘INDUSTRY BABY,’” Stawowy said. “A lot of Lil Nas X’s fame comes from people using his songs on TikTok, and I think that it is great that his name is getting out there more.”

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While Lil Nas X has received a lot of positive feedback, Jake Ciccarelli, a junior public relations major, said he feels that some of his actions can be seen as somewhat damaging to the LGBTQ+ community.

“The metaphor of the baby bump is a tricky one,” Ciccarelli said. “Having close ties with the LGBTQ+ community, I see the baby bump metaphor from different perspectives. Personally I did not have a problem with it, but I do not think he is representing trans-masculine people that well; the metaphor may not be fair to men who still have female anatomy that could get pregnant. Lil Nas X is able to use the baby bump as art, while others may carry that characteristic as an insecurity.”

Although Lil Nas X has done some things that Ciccarelli does not agree with, he said that the rapper is good representation for the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I do think he [Lil Nas X] represents gay black men well because black men are even more pressured to be masculine,” Ciccarelli said. 

Nicole Miazga can be reached at nicole.miazga@student.shu.edu.

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