Fans hail Lil Nas X's 'unapologetically Black and unapologetically queer' debut album

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A man in a black cowboy hat and gold-accented black jacket posing against an orange background
Rapper and singer Lil Nas X released his debut album Thursday night. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Tell 'em that the wait is over: Lil Nas X's highly anticipated debut album is finally here.

On Thursday night, the trailblazing singer and rapper released his eponymous studio effort, "Montero," along with a passionate music video for his latest single, "Thats What I Want."

Fans are already burning up social media with praise for the recording artist, who has been celebrated for pushing boundaries by proudly expressing his Black, gay identity through his music, videos, live performances, fashion and social media presence.

"Everything @LilNasX is doing is powerful," tweeted video game producer and personal trainer Corey Lay. "Non-Black straight artists have had so many opportunities & success expressing themselves fully. Now Black queerness is on the map in such a big way unapologetically. It makes me so happy to be seen & celebrated. The future is bright."

"i love that Lil Nas X is unapologetically Black and unapologetically queer," echoed Rewire News Group's Imani Gandy. "He knows who he is."

Case in point: The emotional music video for "Thats What I Want" sees Lil Nas X in a steamy romance with one of his football teammates, stylishly clad in a hot pink uniform.

"Need a boy who can cuddle with me all night," the Grammy winner sings on the track. "Keep me warm, love me long, be my sunlight / Tell me lies, we can argue, we can fight / Yeah, we did it before, but we'll do it tonight."

At press time, the video for "Thats What I Want" had already racked up more than 5 million views on YouTube — hot off the successes of his last three singles, "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," "Sun Goes Down" and "Industry Baby."

The video also pays homage to the groundbreaking film "Brokeback Mountain," hailed at the time of its 2005 release for its representation of gay love. And that's not all: A fleeting cameo is made by "Pose" star Billy Porter, who recently became the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy for lead actor in a drama series.

"First pass on LilNasX's 'That's What I Want,' and Jesus Christ. He's 22," wrote Twitter user @NomeDaBarbarian. "There was so little like this, before him. He's in the vein of Prince, or Elton John, or Freddy Mercury, insisting on his right to take up this space, to be here for himself, and for the folks who'd never have anything like it otherwise."

"Everything about #MONTERO was so next level," tweeted @boldlybilly. "I’ve never felt so connected to the emotions of an album like that before. It felt like a sigh of relief. This is why representation matters. Thank you for that @LilNasX."

Other artists featured on the 15-track album include Jack Harlow, Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus.

In keeping with his promotional fake-pregnancy stunt leading up to the arrival of "Montero," Lil Nas X has also included a "Baby Registry" on the album's website, full of donation links to various organizations supporting Black, LBGTQ and other marginalized communities.

"Lil Nas X’s existence is going to literally change pop culture forever," tweeted comedian Dewayne Perkins. "I’m so happy he exists."

See more reactions to "Montero" below.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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