“Montero” is the debut album of Lil Nas X (LNX) and while it’s a little bit of a mixed bag…it’s a pretty decent debut. We finally get the chance to peek behind the curtain of who Lil Nas X is. Sitting on top of booming 808’s and unique melodies are lyrics that feel as if their being read from his own personal diary. His rise to fame, his struggles with relationships & his perspectives on life. It’s a quality that’s seemed to have been lost over the last few years within the world of hip hop.
The album opens up with the self titled track “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”, which if you haven’t heard it before, It’s the song with the music video in which Lil Nas X is giving satan a lap dance. (Let’s be honest who wouldn’t though?) When I first heard the track as a single, i’ll admit I wasn’t a fan, but within the concept of the album, it’s opened up a whole new appreciation for the song. Not only it being an absolute banger of an opening track. On the surface the lyrics talk about a secret relationship in which one half of the couple is living his truth in secret. But listening to it more and more, I couldn’t help but think it’s not LNX singing to his secret lover, but the voice in Lil Nas X’s head persuading him to quit hiding, come out & be himself. Which the is why the title is called “Montero” The actual name of LNX. It’s the “coming out” discussion.
“Montero” smoothly transitions into one of my favorite songs on the album, “Dead Right Now”. The influences of Kid Cudi are all over this track. I actually think featuring Cudi on this track would have been dope. Everything about this track makes it feel like an instant classic. The brassy synths, the bouncy drums, the catchy melodies LNX incorporates into the music through his voice. I felt he did a great job finding the frays of the instrumental and sewing himself seamlessly into the patchwork. “Industry Baby” is the braggadocious victory lap track every hip-hop album needs. With line’s like ”I told you along ago on the road, I got what they waiting for” & “You was never rooting for me anyway”, they perfectly sums up LNX’s trajectory as an artist. As I mentioned, I’m guilty of casting off LNX as one hit wonder, projecting a potential downfall but this track was just a river dance all over my face. The feature verses from Jack Harlow we’re on point as well, probably the best feature artist we got on this album…but we’ll get more into that later.
We hit a 180 with “That’s What I Want”. An acoustic pop infused track about wanting love, (but let’s be honest who doesn’t) it’s the subject matter that makes this song universally relatable. It’s also fun to yell along with “I wan’t someone to love me” while driving down the road. Just make sure you do it with your windows rolled up or you’ll be looking desperate. Just a tip from experience. “Scoop” feels more in line with the type of music coming out of the hip-hop scene today, a song without much substance carried by a catchy one worded hook. It’s not meant to be heavy, it’s meant to be for the club…or Zumba, either way, it will definitely get you moving. The verse from Doja Cat didn’t really do much to elevate the song, I personally think you could have thrown anybody on the feature and it would have had the same impact regardless. Doja just happens to be on fire right now, it’s the perfect feature for a radio spot.
I chuckled to myself when I heard “One Of Me” for the first time. It’s LNX directly speaking from the perspective of his haters. I get it, it has to be frustrating to come into the scene with one sound and wanting to experiment with different sounds without the fear and insecurities of failing. That’s a lot of pressure. With the Iconic Elton John being musically featured on the track (Another artist who stood out for being different in his days) The pairing makes sense. I do think this was one of the weaker tracks on the album though. I know, I must be a hater.
“Lost In The Citadel” switches things up again with a hip-hop infused rock song. Where the fuck is Post Malone when you need him? In fact, this song feels so much like a Posty song, it’s as if he passed on it and it fell into the lap of LNX instead. It definitely stands out on the album for being different sonically than anything else but again…it feels more like a post song than a Lil Nas X song. “Dolla Sign Slime” brings us back into the braggadocios hype realm that doesn’t quite have as much as an impact as “Industry Baby” did. We get a feature from Megan Thee Stallion that once again, doesn’t seem to bring much of a difference to the song other than being a name. “Tales Of Dominica” brings us into an even deeper and personal level within the life of LNX. Dealing with depression and dysfunctional relationships, the Spanish guitar driving this track helps make it feel as if your living in a fantasy world you’ve created in your head in order to escape the chaos. It’s a peaceful juxtaposition to the darkness inbedded within the lyrics.
“Sun Goes Down” feels like a letter written to LNX’s younger self in which he reflects on his struggle’s of being not only a black man but gay as well. It’s the epitome of thought’s that creep into your mind as, well…the sun goes down. The anxiety, the worry, the self doubt. It’s another personal touch to an album that makes it so much deeper than it appears on the surface. Speaking of letters to your younger self, “Void” once again finds LNX talking to his past self about the struggles of fame. This song happens to be my second favorite song, not because of how existential sonically this song feels, but because of how intimate it feels. Everyone, I think, dreams of fame at least once in their life. LNX gives us the reality of fame served on the silver platter he’s worked hard to get.
I love the fact that “Don’t Want It” follows “Void” as it seems sort of like a rebirth mentally. LNX is finally accepting fame and taking it all in. It’s an inspirational song about looking back at where you came from to where you are now & how with hard work, you can make your dream a reality. I also love the incorporation of “Hush Little Baby” into the lead melody of the vocals…LNX is going to take care of LNX. “Life After Salem” once again revisits the rock genre with a song, that I feel, is a cry for transperency from the critics hidden below the surface of lyrics detailing a failing relationship. It’s never explicitly said, but the fact that there feels like a duality at play is what keeps this song from feeling more like a filler. Finally we have “Am I Dreaming” featuring none other than Miley Cyrus. Once again LNX reflects on his past, his present & his future. Carried by a gentle acoustic guitar and strings, it’s a calming end compared to the project’s opener & the perfect closure for a project that has been so personal.
Overall, I love how personal this album feels. I finally get to see LNX and the complexities of who he is as a person. It definitely makes me respect him more as an artist and shows that his music is more than just a controversial gimmick. While I personally don’t quite think this album is at the level of “Album Of The Year”, there is no doubt the impact this album will have within the music scene and more specifically the hip-hop scene. LNX is here to break barriers and “Montero” is his sledgehammer.