With the benefit of 12 hours of hindsight, it seems accurate to say that no one had more fun at the 2021 VMAs than Lil Nas X. He went into the night with five nominations and left with three, including the show's top prize of Video of the Year. He brought his cinematic visions for both "Industry Baby" and "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)" to life onstage with a dazzling performance.
And by the time MTV News got ahold of him backstage, LNX was searching very high in the sky for the right description to match his mood. "What does it feel like? I'm on cloud 179," he told correspondent Dometi Pongo. Without missing a beat, because few understand the value of promotion as well as he does, LNX quickly added some key information in a single breath: "And my album comes out September 17. Everybody go buy my album!"
To that end, his debut, Montero, is set to reveal even more sides of the multitalented artist than we've seen since he galloped on the scene in late 2018 with "Old Town Road." Sometimes I genuinely forget he's the same dude who gave us the Billboard-disrupting song about "bull-riding and boobies" and a Billy Ray Cyrus career resurgence because he's spent the years since completely redefining himself at every turn. He even gave "Old Town Road" a quick "I don't know her" during the interview, playfully mistaking it for Breland's "My Truck."
It shows that LNX is on a path of self-revelation, which he will continue to mine on Montero. "This new era is about finding myself, I guess. Covid gave me a lot of time to think about what I want to do in life and how I have to stop caring about what everybody else wanna think about what I gotta do."
He teased a "banger" coming from him and Kid Cudi in 2022. ("It's gonna be the song of the year!") He mentioned how his transcendence of genre across pop, rap, country, and more will all come into play on his debut album. ("It's all gonna slap, baby.") And unlike in the "Industry Baby" video and in his performance onstage last night, he did not spontaneously use a shower-dance scene as a climactic show-stopping centerpiece.
But he did speak candidly about making the visual and about what he wanting to accomplish with its symbolism — which finds him a prisoner but still owning every bit of scenery and seemingly pulling all the strings from within. It's a motif that he pulled from in his ravishing performance as well.
"It's been a long year for me," he said. "I've had to overcome a lot of internal battles. The prison represented me breaking out of that."
Check out all the winner's from the 2021 VMAs right here.