- About his BET performance: “Going to this place with all these overly masculine rappers and you’re finna be in there throwing a little ass every now and then, touching on dudes and hugging them and kissing them…at some points I was like, ‘Should I even do this? I don’t feel like they’re going to love me like that,’” he admits.
Quite decidedly, the BET Awards and its network have a troubled history with LGBTQ+ people. “And [people always say] go where you’re accepted and stuff like that, but you can’t always just go where you’re accepted. You’ve got to go and break down those walls and say, ‘This is my space now too.’”
- On his experience growing up: “Growing up in the Atlanta area, I [saw] a lot of microaggressions towards homosexuality,” he recalls. “Little things like going into an IHOP and hearing one of your family members say, ‘Look at those faggots’ to two people eating or even just a small [statement like] ‘Boys don’t cry.’ Little shit like living in the hood, not being super into sports, and then having to go outside and pretend that I was.”
As a result, Nas remembers “pushing that part of myself in more and more, almost convincing myself that it’s not even actually there.” He brings up a recent viral video of a Black boy named Tyler, reportedly in the Atlanta area, being abused by family members, including having the word “gay” shaved into the side of his head.
“It takes you back in time, watching somebody else’s experience,” he says slowly, obviously processing something internally. But that’s why his BET Awards performance was so important, he adds. “I was in rehearsals like, ‘Oh, my God. I have to do my absolute fucking best with this performance because of shit like this.’”
- Being the king of clapbacks: "But I won’t pretend like I’m never sad or anything,” he says. “I’ve had a bunch of hard times this past week, after that performance and before the performance. But for me, that’s life, and one thing I 100 percent never do when I’m in these down moments is go to social media with them. Because I know that they’re going to pass, and what a lot of people like to do is use that against you.”
Nas says he first learned this tool for survival when he was younger. “Growing up, I didn’t realize it, but I’ve always been kind of my own hand on my own shoulder. I’ve had to keep a lot of secrets, and I can only share those things with myself. So, I had to lift myself up when I was down, from fucking 9 years old, because I don’t feel like me and my dad ever had a super emotional connection after he got custody of me and my brother, and I didn’t really get that with my mom and my siblings.”
- The difference between Lil Nas X versus Montero: “I’m turning into Montero more and more, day by day,” he admits, noting that the bulk of his music leading up to the most recent singles isn’t necessarily personal. “I named the album after myself because there are a lot of things I’ve been going through and dealing with and wanting to say. I wanted to let sides of myself show that I’ve been afraid of people seeing for so long.”
- His motivation for making music then and now: When he first made the decision to pursue music full time, the goal was simply “to be this huge rapper,” Nas admits now. “I was looking to blend in when I first started, but now I genuinely don’t mind and wish to do my own thing and stand out. I wanted to just be an artist at first. I wanted to just make music.
“But now I have even more of a purpose: to continue to find myself and, by doing so, help others find themselves.”