Lil Nas X has a few choice words for critics who are outraged over his new music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
The song and video debuted on Friday and almost instantly went viral. It has since been viewed more than 24 million times. Fans praised the young artist for his work and artistic vision, while others criticized the video for its religious imagery, depiction of the devil and sexual undertones.
The 21-year-old performer made the most out of the criticism, taking to social media to share some of the backlash from parents he received after the initial release. He shared a screenshot of a Facebook post to Twitter on Friday, jokingly writing, “we made it to facebook!!! LETS GOOO!”
“Lil Nas is a whole new level of demonic,” the Facebook post read. “Some of y’all better check your kid’s playlist. Stay in the KNOW!”
Since the music video dropped, Lil Nas X has been responding to not only praise for his new release but has also taken the time to defend his work from some of the criticism it has received.
The singer retweeted a now-deleted post, writing, “there is a mass shooting every week that our government does nothing to stop. me sliding down a cgi pole isn’t what’s destroying society.”
Later that day, he shared a video of him performing “Old Town Road” at an elementary school in 2019 that was captioned, “The system is targeting kids. Lil Nas X’s fanbase is mostly children. They did the same thing with Miley Cyrus after Hannah Montana.”
“there was no system involved,” Lil Nas X wrote. “i made the decision to create the music video. i am an adult. i am not gonna spend my entire career trying to cater to your children. that is your job.”
On Saturday, the young artist took to Twitter in the midst of the video's barrage of feedback, both positive and negative, to share a raw note about his struggle with his sexuality as a teen, writing, “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the sh-- 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,” he concluded the tweet.
One supportive mom responded to this, saying: "As a mom to a gay 14 year old, I appreciate this. I hope he never ever hates himself because of other people's ignorant opinions. I'm sorry you experienced that growing up. You're a brilliant and talented person that seems kind. This mom supports you."
But not every parent is happy with him. Former NBA player Nick Young took to Twitter to share his disappointment in the rapper, writing, “My kids will never play Old Town road again.. I’m still debating about wearing @Nike after this come nike a drop of blood for real.”
Lil Nas X was able to clap back with a sense of humor, writing, “they shouldn’t be playing old town road anyway, we streaming call me by your name now 😌.”
Some critics also took to social media to decry a sneaker collaboration the young rapper is participating in that is also inspired by the underworld.
A pair of Nike classic Air Max ’97’s have been revamped by product company MSCHF, the same company that in 2019 created a pair of $1,800 “Jesus Shoes” (Nikes filled with holy water). Costing $1,108, the Lil Nas X sneakers contain 60 CCs of red ink as well as one drop of human blood. (Nike is not associated with the shoes, telling Input, "Nike did not design or release these shoes and we do not endorse them.”)
"Our kids are being told that this kind of product is, not only okay, it's 'exclusive,'" tweeted South Dakota governor Kristi Noem. "But do you know what's more exclusive? Their God-given eternal soul."
She continued, "We are in a fight for the soul of our nation. We need to fight hard. And we need to fight smart. We have to win."
Lil Nas X responded to this, saying: "ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job!"
Political commentator Candace Owens shared her thoughts on the matter as well, writing in part, "We are promoting Satan shoes to wear on our feet." Lil Nas X retweeted her comments, responding with, "you know you did something right when she talks about it."
While the Lil Nas X shoes and "Montero" music video have been met with controversy, other artists in the industry and fans have praised him for his work. On Friday, he shared a photo to Instagram asking fans what their favorite part of the video was, to which the rapper Big Sean commented, “The creativity n confidence to do you fully is my favorite part! Keep rockin bro.”
In an op-ed for Variety, writer Adam B. Vary drew parallels between the careers of artists like Elton John, George Michael and Ricky Martin and how they were able to express themselves at the time to Lil Nas X being able to be unapologetically himself today.
“I cannot wait to see what he’s up to next, and it seems I am far from alone,” Vary wrote. “That’s fabulous news for Nas and for any other queer artists who wish to follow in his footsteps. It’s also, perhaps, bittersweet for the queer artists who’ve come before Nas, who could have hit these same heights would they were ever afforded the chance.”
Lil Nas X came out in June 2019 on Twitter through lyrics from his song “c7osure.” At the time, the young artist faced some backlash but was almost met with love and support from fans and a host of celebrities. Following the release of “Montero,” the singer penned a note to his younger self on Twitter about coming out.
“dear 14 year old montero, i wrote a song with our name in it,” Lil Nas X, whose given name is Montero Lamar Hill, wrote in part. “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.”