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30 March 2021

Montero (Call Me By Your Name)

by Syd Briscoe

Lil Nas X: “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” - 3 mins 10s

After teasing fans with snippets for months, viral sensation Lil Nas X has finally dropped latest single 'Montero', accompanied by a typically attention-grabbing video. Much more than a stunt designed to stir up controversy (and oh, how it's stirred up controversy), the film makes a defiant statement about being yourself - boldly, radically, and unapologetically.

From the song's title - which references the 2017 gay romance film and Nas's first name - to its lyrics ("you live in the dark, boy / I cannot pretend"), there's a definite feeling that this is a mission statement of self-identity. That sense is only compounded by the promo, in which Nas plays each and every character as the story unfolds on a biblical scale.

There's plenty of pageantry to be had as intricately-styled versions of Nas are both condemned and do the condemning. Unlike the glitzy sheen of 2020's 'Holiday', though, there's a defiant attitude to the fantastical action. Send me to hell for being who I am, Nas says, and I'll ride down to the devil on a stripper pole. Just watch me.

It's a uniquely powerful piece of work to come from a queer Black artist, as non-white LGBT people often face increased levels of homophobia and religious pressure within their own communities. Many a pastor has spoken out against Nas in the wake of this promo's release, and it should make observers uncomfortable to see how much 'acceptance' is still conditional on 'keeping quiet about it'.

Lil Nas is anything but quiet, as he literally gives the devil a lapdance before taking his place on hell's throne - both in the promo, and in the eyes of some watching. The whole film is a stylish, sexy middle finger to the conservative - to the judgemental, the homophobic, to anyone who would ask someone in Nas' shoes to hide who he is. After this, we don't think anyone would dare.

Cinematographer: Scott Cunningham
Production Designer: John Richoux

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