Perhaps it comes from his days running a Nicki Minaj stan account, perhaps it’s from growing up online in the Zoomer gen— whatever it is, there is no one showing up like Lil Nas X. From courting song features to courting controversy, he takes risks that others dream of, unafraid to spark conversations by speaking a uniquely internet-driven language. As a digitally native creator with a sophisticated sense of the inner-workings of social media, Lil Nas X’s online presence is a MasterClass in disrupting algorithms and owning a content-driven narrative.
Lil Nax X’s latest foray into virality isn’t his first rodeo: a few years back, his single Old Town Road spent a record-breaking 19 weeks as the Billboard #1. Since then, he’s been a persistent beat in the culture, releasing his first EP in 2019 and a collaboration with Nas in 2020 — all without having a full-length album out. The viral success of MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) and tomorrow’s anticipated release of Sun Goes Down, his latest single, proves that he will continue eschewing the trope of the one-hit wonder.
MONTERO was teased back in July, but the song officially dropped last month, with an accompanying music video that’s racked up over 200M views. The video immediately led to an explosion of memes and uproar from conservatives: both the song and the video are absolutely, unapologetically queer. The video itself is campy and colorful, subverting imagery from the Bible and ending with Lil Nas sliding down a pole and giving Satan a lapdance in hell. It is, without a doubt, an empowering expression of male desire and it’s turned its haters into amplifiers of Lil Nas’s message.
The video also features a unique collaboration: Satan wears a distinct pair of Nike Air Max 97s, a design dubbed the SATAN SHOE made in collaboration with the art collective MSCHF. The shoe is inscribed with a Bible verse and the air bubble sole is filled with red ink and a drop of human blood; 666 pairs were made, dropping for $1,018, and sold out in seconds. But it’s not the controversy surrounding the Satan Shoes or the video that’s shown off Lil Nas’s keen ability to keep the conversation rolling — it’s the content that’s surrounded the song itself. Read on for a mini MasterClass in content.