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Lil Nas X praises FKA twigs after ‘Montero’ video is accused of copying her ideas

Lil Nas X wears a stack of hats on his head
Lil Nas X is paying his respects to fellow musician FKA twigs after fans thought his latest video copied twigs’ “Cellophane.”
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Fans of musician FKA twigs saw something familiar after watching the new music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” when it debuted Friday.

The video for pop star Lil Nas X’s latest single features, among other things, a pair of thigh-high leather boots; the singer-rapper chained in a gladiator-esque arena with captors also played by him; and, most infamously, a 30-second lap dance on Satan.

While that satanic cameo drew the most attention from fans and critics, it was another meme-worthy motif that had some viewers accusing the musician — who shot to stardom with his 2019 runaway hit, “Old Town Road” — of copying twigs’ ideas.

His spiraling, pole-dancing descent from heavenly clouds into the fiery depths of hell reminded many of a similar scene in twigs’ video for her song “Cellophane.” That video, which came out two years ago, featured twigs ascending toward a bright, ethereal summit before plunging down a pole into the darkness.

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The director of “Cellophane,” Andrew Thomas Huang, took to Twitter last week to raise his concerns about “Montero.”

“I’m a fan of @LilNasX,” he tweeted Saturday, acknowledging the realities of artistic expression. “Sharing aesthetics and paying homage is part of the creative process. Collective consciousness exists.

“Images are also expensive to make. Years of work went into the creation of ‘Cellophane,’ from physical training to the emotional labor of unpacking Twigs’ life to construct images [that] told her story of trauma and recovery. ‘Cellophane’ was a confession in the most vulnerable sense,” he said.

“When an artist is in a position of power (amplified with the help of major record labels, social media, PR, etc) and repurposes someone’s labor and ideas to serve their brand image,” he added in his Twitter thread, “they cause harm by displacing the efforts of the artists who did the original leg work.

This isn’t Lil Nas X’s first rodeo when it comes to drawing inspiration from other musicians. Last year, singer Fiona Apple playfully called the rapper out for sampling her song “Every Single Night” without permission on his 2018 mixtape “Nasarati.” The two ended their mini-feud when Apple accepted an offer from Lil Nas X to collaborate on his next album.

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Meanwhile, fans on Twitter pointed out the similarities between “Montero” and “Cellophane,” noting that twigs lost the best music video nomination to Lil Nas X at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

Lil Nas X addressed the controversy on Instagram Tuesday, posting a clip from the “Cellophane” video along with a note of his appreciation for twigs.

“the “cellophane” visual is a masterpiece,” he wrote. “i was not aware that the visual would serve as inspiration for those who worked on the effects of my video.” (Pole choreographer Kelly Yvonne worked with both artists on “Cellophane” and “Montero.”)

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“i want to say thank u to twigs for calling me and informing me about the similarities between the two videos, as i was not aware they were so close. was only excited for the video to come out,” he continued, before closing the caption with more praise and recognition for the singer.

Twigs weighed in soon after, sharing a picture of Lil Nas X on Instagram and suggesting they had cleared the air.

“thank you @lilnasx for our gentle honest conversations and for acknowledging the inspiration cellophane gave you and your creative team in creating your iconic video!” she wrote Tuesday. “i think what you have done is amazing and i fully support your expression and bravery in pushing culture forward for the queer community. legend status.”

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She also thanked Huang and Yvonne for their work on her video, then encouraged her followers to support the sex-worker collective and advocacy group SWARM.

She wrote, “most importantly i would like to thank sex workers and strippers for providing the physical language to make both videos possible.”


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