Who could say they went to a rap concert that gave their audience a playbill? Indeed, only ones that attended Lil Nas X’s show could say yes. On September 16, Lil Nas X delivered a powerful performance at RBC Echo Beach in Toronto, as part of his first headlining tour, ‘Long Live Montero’.
As you enter the venue, you are given a playbill-like booklet, in which you’re greeted with a welcome message written by the singer himself. Images of the rapper in glittery fairy rings appear throughout the brochure with humorous notes such as “this isn’t your regular ass show” and “You will see me in a play about me, starring me as me, with music by me“.
The playbill contained the setlist and a collage of his tour wardrobe with a description of each outfit. The booklet also featured words of wisdom and encouragement from his partnership with the designer brand Coach. The buzz filled the air as you entered the venue. People wore cowboy hats, hot pink combinaisons, and bedazzled outfits, all inspired by the wardrobe that Lil Nas X has rocked on the red carpet.
The show was divided into three acts, which all serve the purpose of telling the story of Lil Nas X and his journey as an artist. The first act contains the song that started it all: “Old Town Road”. After that, the rapper performed many hits such as “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby”.
Lil Nas X delivered a powerful performance letting his audience into his artistic mind. Bright colours, glitter, synchronised dance, dazzled life-sized horse, Lamar didn’t hold back in the decorations allowing the audience to be fully immersed in his world.
Lil Nas X, also known as, Montero Lamar, was born in Lithia Springs, Georgia, U.S.A. Before becoming a singer, the 23-year-old was studying Computer Science at the University of West Georgia. However, he dropped out to pursue a music career.
Lil Nas X gained notable fame by releasing his debut track “Old Town Road,” which became viral on social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter.The country rap song debuted at number 83 on Billboard Hot 100 and charted in the Hot Country and Rap/Hip Hop category.
Later on, Billboard removed the song from the Hot Country category, believing it didn’t fit a country song’s characteristics, despite the song using cowboy imagery and references. Many criticized this move, accusing it of racism, with Billboard releasing a statement saying the song wasn’t pulled out because of his colour or race.
Many critics accused country music of being historically racist and discriminatory toward people of colour, as a result of this incident, but in any case, “Old Town Road” would eventually land the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with the help of country legend Billy Ray Cyrus, who hopped on the remix with Lil Nas X, and would remain there for 19 straight weeks.
Lil Nas X shines bright in the world of hip-hop and modern pop music with his confidence and eccentric personality. He isn’t afraid to show his true colours and be proud of who he is as an artist, particularly as a rapper. Being openly gay and not afraid to be feminine in the rap and hip-hop industry is still seen as taboo, with trends of lyrics lingering messages of sexism and machismo.
It’s hard to find artists like Lil Nas X who are a breath of fresh air and who advocate and represent the LGBTQ+ community in the hip-hop industry. In fact, his playbill book featured a page about the Trevor Project, an American Non-Profit Organization that focuses on suicide prevention for youth part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Lil Nas X is touring the United States and Europe from September to December 2022 to promote his debut album Montero. If you ever get a chance to see him perform live, I highly recommend taking it. It’s an incredible experience, unlike any other show.
Words by Emily Zhang