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Lil Nas X: I thought soon I was going to die for some reason’

Lil Nas X joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss his long-awaited full-length debut album ‘MONTERO’. In the wide-ranging conversation, he tells Zane about becoming more unapologetic and authentically himself, navigating criticism, how music saved his life, and his continued evolution as an artist and public figure. He also discusses his relationship with Miley Cyrus, why Doja Cat is one of his biggest inspirations, collaborating with Kanye West and Elton John, picking his fights carefully, coming out, the rise of female rappers and hoping more queer artists can share the spotlight, and much more.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Working Through His Anxiety With Music…
The entire time I was making music, I thought soon I was going to die for some reason. Worst anxiety period. You know, I lost my grandmother and was the first person that was close to me that I had ever lost. I was like, “Oh my God, everything’s building up.” And then especially when Old Town Road blew up. I was like, “Oh, I’m definitely dying soon.” All of these artists that were coming into, or starting to pop into the music industry were passing away, I was like, “What the fuck is happening?” I guess I tried to ignore it until it went away. And then that’s when I found belief in the universe, for sure. And I was like, “Oh my God, I’m really not alone in this.” That’s another thing music was for me though. It was something I love, but it was also a distraction from those thoughts. It’s like, oh, those thoughts, here’s the song guys.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Coming Out…
I knew some people would be shocked. Because a lot of people, when they hear a song, they maybe look up the artist and don’t think much don’t, don’t get too involved into your life or what they’re talking about, or their captions or what they’re posting on their story or whatnot. So then it’s just like, “Wait, what the.” Because there’s a lot of songs I like right now and I’ve seen the artist’s face, but I have no idea about them outside of that. So that’s how it was for… It was like, “Oh, this cowboy country? Wait, huh? How’s that possible?”
I feel responsibility. I don’t know if I want to say a lot, but it’s certain things that I see in the world that fuel me to go harder or put even more effort, or to make sure I’m getting across. Because I feel like, I said this before in the past, when people come out as gay or whatnot, it becomes like, “Okay, let’s sanitise the hell out of this. Let’s make sure it’s appropriate and super safe.” And it’s like where they don’t do anything that’s considered too far, even the things that we see other artists doing. And even to defend ourselves… I feel like we still haven’t reached a place where I can do something right now that no straight person has done that’s considered too far. Because then, it’s really too far because no straight person has done it yet. You know what I’m saying?

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music He Hopes Gay Rappers Will Follow In The Footsteps of Female Rappers…
Just looking around and seeing all these other artists who are gay just pushed to this box, this bowl of gay artists and it’s like… you’re here. I mean, I feel like especially right now with female rappers, I think that’s so dope that that’s happening because we haven’t seen this ever. You know, so many female rappers that are just killing it. And I feel like a decade from now it’s going to be the same with gay rappers or any rappers. I feel like there are going to be entire trans rappers and whatnot just killing it because, why not?

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Picking Fights Carefully…
I definitely make sure I am picking my fights carefully. And I guess I try to pick out the ones that I’m like, “Okay, here’s something to actually talk about.” Because if somebody just like “trashy gay” there’s nothing there. But if somebody is like, “You’re pushing this and this is destroying Black men as a whole and emasculation,” actually, this is somebody who actually believes something versus just an insult. So it’s like, let me talk to this person, because you never know whose mind is flickering. Because I’ve had a lot of views that I’ve changed within the last three years, you know?

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Kanye West’s Credit on “Industry Baby”…

Lil Nas X: So you know we had basically been working on the song for like a year and I went in to meet Kanye and he was super cool. He played me his album, he’s played everybody his album now. Really talented man. And I played him some of the songs that I had been working on, he was like, he could add something to Industry Baby. And he did, he added some horns and stuff, right?

David Biral (Take A Daytrip): Yeah, yeah. He really helped really just beef up the horn section. Right.

Lil Nas X: Yeah. He beefed that up a lot and just the acknowledgement from him or him even adding himself to that, that’s a great look for all of us. So we’re just really thankful for that.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music How The Internet Inspired Him To Pursue a Career in Music…
I think that’s actually what made me start to do music because I started to see the world as small. I feel like once you’re on the internet all the time, you realise everything is so connected and nothing’s really out of reach. And yeah, I guess that helped me push myself to hop right on in. I started in 2018, 2019. Three years, it’s been about three years now.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Mastering The Internet and Why it’s A Great Tool…
I guess I didn’t realise how great I had become at doing internet stuff until people started telling me. I was like, “Is everybody not using the internet this way?” But yeah, you learn so much subconsciously just doing the things that you do on the internet or to push and promote other people or just to defend other people or other groups of people and whatnot. And yeah, it’s come across as a great tool.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music How Music Saved His Life…
Music saved my entire life, like all artists said. And I truly get it now. It gave me an outlet to just have more of a purpose, have something that I want to dedicate myself to, have something I love, have something that I’m not doing for somebody else. Because I felt like at some point I was doing college and s**t so one day I can say, “Well, look, I have this, I have this diploma or whatever the f**k. So I’m not a f**k up… I did good in life.”

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About His Constant Evolution…
I feel like I’m still on a constant journey of that. And I really need people to bear with me. Because even a lot of things I like to say and feel now, I may not feel the same way in two years.Yeah. I still don’t want that. And that’s another reason I want people to look at me more as someone who’s saying, do what you want to do, be yourself, but try to respect other people. But don’t look at me as this perfect hero who’s not going to make mistakes and should be the voice for everybody or something like. You’re the voice for you.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music How Doja Cat Inspires Him…
She is one of my biggest inspirations right now. It first starts with just watching the VMAs last year, seeing her out there looking like a f**king star. It literally made me start going to the gym. Because I was like, “I want to get in shape because I want to start doing crazier, better performances.” And I just want to be in shape in general. And just her music, she’s diverse, her videos, and her personality is really colourful and pop. She’s funny. She’s a fun person. She takes things seriously, but doesn’t take things seriously. You know what I mean? She takes what she does seriously. You can tell she puts a lot of effort into everything she does, but she’s not going around like, “I am the best. I am the queen of everything.” And rightfully so, she could say that.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Collaborating With Elton John…
Me and Elton, actually, we’re not super close or anything, but he’s been so supportive. Come on, Elton John is on my album. Just a star.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music How His Relationship With Miley Cyrus Has Developed…

Zane Lowe: So how’s the relationship with Miley developed, because she’s not just part of the family that we’re there for you, but also she’s part of your extended family now within the business?

Lil Nas X: Miley is just the sweetest person ever and I feel like she’s one of those people that don’t even realise how impactful and how much of a legend they already are and what they have done and what they’re doing right now, even to this day. And I really admire her and her ability to constantly change herself.

Zane Lowe: Well, she is someone who I think has come out of a predisposed identity and had to figure out who she really is.

Lil Nas X: It’s so hard to do. It’s so hard to do. And I respect that. I really respect that.

Zane Lowe: And you must relate to it.

Lil Nas X: Absolutely. That’s another thing. It’s just another thing we can connect on, maybe never spoke about it, but yeah, I feel that.

Lil Nas X Tells Apple Music About Album Closer “AM I DREAMING (feat. Miley Cyrus)…
It represents the ending. The song is basically, let’s say you’re on a sinking ship. Everything is going down, or you’re dying basically, and you’re having all these thoughts about what everybody is going to feel. You can’t even settle in your own death. Your mind is like, “What’s everybody going to think? Am I going to be remembered? Am I going to be loved?” And then at the end, it’s like death, it’s the end of the album, it’s symbolising the end of life. And then once you see the album cover, it’s like a continuous cycle basically because I feel like once we’re gone here, we’re doing something next somewhere else.

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