Music Reviews

From Montero To Messiah: Lil Nas X’s ‘J Christ’ And His Continuum Of Queer Expression

Critics are taking massive digs at Nas's musical prowess and fairly so, the song in itself is quite lackluster. The beat is below mid, the lyrics are trying to be provocative but are shallow, and LNX's vocals have never been a strong point of his. But I am not here to talk about all that, I am here to discuss the MV and everything gay about it.

Montero Lamar Hill AKA Lil Nas X has risen from his thrown in hell (a reference to his last viral hit Montero “Call Me by Your Name”) to wreak havoc on Cishets, Christians, musicians, critics, and honestly, everyone who consumes pop culture. “J Christ” is the lead single from his forthcoming sophomore album. The song started garnering attention from critics and fans way ahead of its release on 12th January, thanks to Lil Nas X’s usual PR game. LNX who is known for his extravagant antics on social media and planned PR stunts, did not shy away from his usual shenanigans to promote his comeback. He released a poster of him, crucified like Jesus Christ, which was kind of iconic but also a little over the top. But I did not expect anything less from the flamboyant, iconic queer artist that is Lil Nas X.

“The crazy thing is nowhere in the picture is a mockery of Jesus. Jesus’s image is used throughout history in people’s art all over the world. I’m not making fun of shit. yall just gotta stop trying to gatekeep a religion that was here before any of us were even born. Stfu.” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter), in bids to the backlash he got for this move.

Critics are taking massive digs at Nas’s musical prowess and fairly so, the song in itself is quite lackluster. The beat is below mid, the lyrics are trying to be provocative but are shallow, and LNX’s vocals have never been a strong point of his. But I am not here to talk about all that, I am here to discuss the MV and everything gay about it.

If you have seen the music video for Montero and gasped for breath, you needn’t worry about this MV as it is just like a more toned-down, Christian version of it. The MV for this song seems like a sequel to Montero, with themes of Christianity, satanism, queerness, and being provocative for the sake of being provocative. I genuinely love LNX’s nonchalant attitude in his music videos, I love how he puts up his middle finger and makes art the way he wants to. As a gay black man in America, to make something like J Christ requires guts, and LNX’s is spilling them all.

In Montero MV we saw Nas giving Satan a lap dance, only to snap his neck and claim himself as Satan. This time we see him rise as Gay Jesus instead. Is he Gay Jesus? I absolutely disagree but A+ for the confidence. The last MV seemed like an internal battle where he seemed to accept what society thought of him as an openly out black man: that he is going to hell. This time though, it feels like he did some real introspection (or at least his PR team did). It feels that he has accepted that what society thinks of him does not matter as Lord Jesus Christ will love and accept him as his child anyway. He in many ways, mocks and questions Christian beliefs but also shows that he has found himself being more comfortable and accepting of his Christianity. “I don’t believe I am evil, I am the savior” Is may be something that he came up with during his very short break from music and I support him. To accept that maybe I am not wrong, maybe I am not evil and maybe I will/should be loved regardless of my sexuality is a huge accomplishment. Society makes us queer people villainize ourselves (cue internalised homophobia). So to see Nas embrace himself as gay Jesus is appreciable even though it is kinda corny.

The MV’s Choreography and smart use of metaphors is also something that I liked but after a point, all those metaphors bombarding in my face got very overwhelming and repetitive for me. I still did enjoy the MV but I genuinely like the shock value and storytelling of Montero better (even the lyrics and song were more fun). The lyrics and the MV seemed to be taking a jab at many sections of the society “Is he gonna give them something viral” he sings, mocking the critics. I don’t think this might go as viral as Industry Baby or Old Town Road but regardless this MV was fun for me. A Gay Black man being himself authentically is the representation I think we all need and deserve. I always tell younger gays that they are so lucky to have more icons like Lil Nas X, who are so openly and flamboyantly themselves. I remember when I was younger, the representation I got was white, iced coffee-sipping, LA Youtubers; we have come a long way now. This is the representation I would die for in my teenage days.

By the end of the MV, a “global flood warning” appears on the TV. Lil Nas adopts the role of Noah in the Book of Genesis, leading animals to safety on his ark. As the video ends and the sun reappears, a title card reads, “Day Zero: A New Beginning.” Next, a passage from the First Epistle to the Corinthians appears: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; Behold, the new has come.” A queer friend of mine and I were dissecting the video together when he said – “He is taking every part of himself which he appreciates on the ark, it is chapter one, he is starting his life again, day 0, everyone and everything gone. That’s what the quote in the end says as well. Or maybe I am reading too much into it”

To me and people like my beloved queer friend, any and all queer representation brings joy. We absolutely will read too much into it, we are gay, and we will overanalyze. When all you have ever gotten is crumbs of inaccurate representation, seeing an MV written and directed by an openly out queer person like Lil Nas X is a sight for sore eyes.  The passage at the end of the MV is also very affirmative. I personally do not follow any religion, but I have various friends who struggle with practicing their faith while being queer individuals.

Regardless of my atheism, I could empathize and relate with the passage at the end.

The critics, the fans, may say whatever but to me this MV is one of many that will make queer representation more common and openly accepted in the future. Every act of representation, of existence, is a rebellion. The MV leaves me with hope and a smile on my face; the future is inclusive.

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Kashish Sharma (she/they) is a Physics grad, who writes, sings, and writes the songs she sings. She is the author of "Haiku from the Heart" and has recieved the "Reader-Leader" award at Katha Utsav for her short stories. When she is not nerding out on string theory or strumming her guitar at unholy hours, she can be found having an existential crisis at your local beach.
Kashish Sharma

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