In 2019, 19-year-old rapper Lil Nas X vaulted from TikTok meme maker lauded by Justin Bieber to record-breaking mainstream success with his country-rap song “Old Town Road,” and there are so many things I love about this story.
First of all, this song appealed to every age group, from toddlers to their grandparents. If you ever need a pick-me-up, I recommend this video of elementary school students reaching “the Beatles on Ed Sullivan” levels of fandom for Lil Nas X.
Second, the song rattled some music-media establishment folks. And, actually, I don’t love this part: A week after “Old Town Road” debuted at No. 19 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in March 2019, Billboard took it off the country chart, stuffily telling Rolling Stone:
“While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Billboard said the decision had nothing to do with the artist being Black. (Racism in country music? Unthinkable!) Among the many people giving Billboard the side-eye over this move was white country-music hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus, who tweeted his support …
… and hopped on a remix, sending the song’s popularity through the roof. “Old Time Road” — the original, the Cyrus remix, and other remixes — broke a 60-year-old record by staying at the No. 1 spot of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 19 consecutive weeks. Take that, Billboard!
Success didn’t make Lil Nas X get all corporate and cautious: He came out as gay on the last day of June 2019 — Pride Month — while his song was still at No. 1. But he far outdid that last Friday with a video for his new song, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which he (playing every role including Adam in Eden and the serpent) pole-dances down to Hell and gives Satan a lap dance. He introduced the video on social media with a letter to 14-year-old Montero Lamar Hill — his own younger, closeted, shame-filled self.
Needless to say, this video is blowing the minds of Fox News talking heads, Christofascist fundamentalists, and a whole lot of adults (including rapper Joyner Lucas) who let their kids sing along to “Old Time Road” with its references to “lean” and “boobies.”
With the video out, Lil Nas X had all the time in the world to troll concerned Christians, parents, and Christian parents on Twitter. And I had all the time in the world to enjoy every one of Lil Nas X’s tweets! Here are some favorites.
On a more serious note, Lil Nas X tweeted, “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.” And on a fashionable note, Lil Nas X and art/streetwear brand MSCHF offered a limited run of customized Nike Air Max 97s featuring pentagrams, an inverted cross, and “a drop of human blood in the sole, drawn from members of the MSCHF team.” The 666 pairs sold out in under a minute. (In 2019, MSCHF offered a Jesus shoe customization, complete with holy water.)
These earrings are from my Punk Platinum collection from a few years ago. I’ve got just two left in each metal, both with diamond accents. I’m selling them as singles, but I won’t be mad if you get a pair. And in honor of Lil Nas X causing all this gay mayhem, your purchase of one or more earrings will come with a donation to an LGBTQ+ organization in your honor. I have a pet project that I’d like to support, but we can discuss it!
One more thing: If you snagged a pair of the Satan sneakers, try to pick them up ASAP! Like, if you’re in NYC, see if you can go over to MSCHF and get them yourself, because Nike will try to stop them from going out. I still regret letting an Alexander McQueen Hells Angel scarf slip through my fingers in 2010 before the Angels sued and all of that merch got destroyed. Rarities are worth the effort!