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Martyr or fallen angel: Lil Nas X advocates for LGBTQ community through ‘Montero (Call Me by Your Name)’

22-year-old viral singer, rapper and songwriter Lil Nas X, otherwise known as Montero Lamar Hill, has come under fire recently for his No. 1 hit single and music video, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” which both uses explicit themes and imagery and created backlash of religious demonization. At the same time, his online sale of “Satan Shoes,” modified Nike Air Max 97s, fit with pentagrams and allegedly, with a drop of blood in their soles, received similar backlash coupled with a lawsuit. 

Known for both his 2019 single and several remixes of “Old Town Road” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, Hill is an award-winning artist with recognitions including Grammy awards for best music video and best pop duo/group performance, two MTV Music Video awards for song of the year and American Music Award for favorite rap/hip hop song, all for his viral “Old Town Road”.

Two years later, Hill premiered “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” on March 26, instantly becoming a viral Youtube sensation, now with 120.4 million views. Featuring biblical, fallen-angel imagery, Hill attempts to “open up a dialogue about the continuing omnipresence of repression among LGBTQ youth, particularly within Christian spaces,” he explained in an interview with Time Magazine

Keeping in mind the “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” video is PG-13 at best, Hill received a wide range of reactions, some in support for advocating for the LGBTQ community and youth, while others deemed it sacrilege and intensely inappropriate, bringing up the issue of artist censorship on a platform frequented by those underage. 

On top of the controversial music video, Hill and producer MSCHF Product Studio Inc. also released modified Nike Air Max 97s, dawning pentagrams, biblical reference to a verse illustrating the fall of Satan and an alleged drop of blood in each sole. Naturally, these shoes intended as a marketing campaign for the new release fed into the sacrilege view, but more notably, led Hill and MSCHF to face a lawsuit with Nike for product alteration and resell and for “damaging its brand” as according to CBS News

On April 8, MSCHF announced it would buy back Hill’s “Satan Shoes” for retail price as settlement, also offering to do the same for their 2019 “Jesus Shoes” (which were not recalled at the time of release) in order to “remove them from circulation,” according to Nike. 

Although both releases of “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” and his “Satan Shoes” certainly gave way to significant controversy and roadblocks for the artist, Hill notes he “100% wants to represent the LGBT community” in an interview with The Guardian, possibly leading to more representation and activism in his upcoming debut album, “MONTERO” this summer.

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