Why Lil Nas X’s Evolution From Dolly Parton To Madonna Is Important
Lil Nas X “pleased (instead of teased) the Black demon” and evolved mainstream pop’s relationship to race and sexuality.
On Friday morning, Lil Nas X’s groundbreaking spectacle-as-music career took another astounding turn as a Black musician evolved from Dolly Parton into Madonna. The trap-rapping cowboy interloper behind double-diamond selling “Old Town Road” has now become the wildly subversive pop crooner behind the hyper-sexualized “official coming-out party”-as-single, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” Never before, or likely again, will we ever see the internalization, reclamation, and simultaneous evolution and retrofitting of the African-borne and white-embraced whore stereotype in American culture.
In 2013, we almost lost the three-century-old — and in need of permanent recontextualization — Black-to-whore analog forever.
The line from Sarah “Hottentot Venus” Baartman (a South African Khoikhoi woman who, as a dancer, had her buttocks objectified as a freak show attraction in 19th-century Europe) to female African-American house slaves as kept women providing sexual favors is obvious. However, the line from Baartman to say, Dolly Parton (African slave trade to Appalachia leads to Blacks and white swapping cultures and roles during Reconstruction), is much less so, but still prevalent. The line from Parton to Madonna to Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO” video involves a key stop along the way where one white woman came through like a “Wrecking Ball,” and nothing’s been the same since.
In a weird, unprecedented form of triple-absorption, Miley Cyrus used her father, Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky” roots alongside her own heartwarming voice to sidle up next to Dolly Parton’s living legacy and absorb some of her countrified soul and universal appeal as a fanciful — and mainstream accepted — “good-time girl.” Then, in the midst of the universe’s initial adoration of trap music, she pushed the envelope of…