Lil Nas X is speaking candidly about his many monikers.
While appearing virtually on The Tonight Show on Friday evening, the 21-year-old rapper opened up to host Jimmy Fallon about the origins of his birth name, as well as the inspiration behind his stage name.
First asked by Fallon, 46, what he should call him, Lil Nas X told the late-night host, "You can call me Nas or Montero," which prompted Fallon to ask why he didn't use Montero, his real first name, as a stage name.
Lil Nas X explained that Nas came from his "internet alias," before adding that he took inspiration from other new musicians when he came up with the rest of his stage name. "When I started doing music, I was like, 'I want to have fun with this," he said. "And every new rapper's name is Lil, Lil, Lil. 'What if I was Lil Nas? That'd be funny.' So I was like, 'Alright, bet. I'll be Lil Nas.' And I added the X later on."
Then, asked by Fallon where Montero comes from, the "Panini" crooner revealed that the story behind his real name is "slightly embarrassing, but not embarrassing," before he shared, "So my mom wanted the car, the [Mitsubishi] Montero, and she never got one … So yeah, I'm named after a car."
Lil Nas X — who broke into the music scene with his record-breaking smash hit "Old Town Road" — has never been one to shy away from being authentic and open in the past.
Back in June 2019, the star came out as gay on Twitter after releasing his first album. At the time, he joked that he thought he made it "obvious," also acknowledging that his openness might cost him fans.
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Months later, while speaking with The Guardian, the rapper opened up about how his post–"Old Town Road" stardom inspired him to publicly come out as gay. Growing up in Georgia, Lil Nas X had convinced himself never to share his truest self with the world.
"The honest truth is, I planned to die with the secret," he said. "… But that changed when I became Lil Nas X."
Explaining his journey to developing his own unique voice, the artist said his initial attempts at songwriting came off as performative, mimicking the decidedly straight personas to which he thought he had to conform.
"It was just me acting really hard," said Lil Nas X. "Which I did a lot of in the beginning, because it felt like that's what I had to do."
Now, Lil Nas X wants to "100 percent" own his status as an LGBTQ trailblazer and positively impact the community.
He is aware, however, that not everyone's situation is identical to his, so he never wants to pressure someone else discovering their sexuality to come out when they aren't fully ready.
"I don't want to encourage them to do something they don't 100 percent want to do. Especially in, like, middle school or high school because it's just super hard," he said."It's easier for me — I'm not depending on anybody. There's no one who's going to kick me out of the house, nobody to start treating me s—ty."
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