Nathan Young dissects Lil Nas X's release, 'Montero'.
Since dropping ‘Old Town Road’ in 2019, Lil Nas X has defied those who called him a one hit wonder and dropped hit single after hit single, each time pushing the envelope out in terms of both his sound and what he could get away with socially. Montero, Lil Nas X’s debut album, is a testament to his talent.
Almost every track is technically excellent, with fun production and assembly on tracks like the sensual Spanish guitar in Montero or the booming trumpets on Industry Baby. The more mellow moments with the less bombastic production, such as Void and Sun Goes Down make incredible chapters on what is, despite high production and star studded features credits, a very personal album telling the story of a young man who has already been through quite a lot. An ultimately happy album with bangers to dance to, there are several tracks looking back on his past, his trauma, and his mental health.
Speaking of features, it’s worth complimenting the range of acts, which include Elton John, Mily Cyrus, and Megan Thee Stallion, and how well their verses fit into the track listings. There is a sense of fun interplay between Lil Nas X and his guests on the collaborative tracks, especially on Industry Baby with Jack Harlow.
The persona of Lil Nas X is inseparable from his music. After coming out as gay, the rapper faced backlash from certain religious and social conservatives, often laughebly accusing him of having been a “child friendly” artist until the disclosure, as if Old Town Road wasn’t about an affair. The single and music video for the title track of his first full length project saw some very explicit homosexual content in both the video and lyrics, which see him giving Satan a lap dance and singing lines like “shoot a child in yo' mouth while I'm ridin'”. Lil Nas X has no time to tone it back to attempt to appease people who hate him and people like him. This rightly leads those who love him to love him more. Industry Baby is also largely a braggadocious middle finger to the man’s detractors, this time aimed at those who thought he would run out of steam.
The album isn’t perfect, with some of the tracks feeling a little like filler. Don’t Want it is fine, but offers nothing that other tracks on the record don’t do better. Void is almost twice the length of some of its tracklist neighbours, and again that seems a tad unnecessary. That said, the whole second half of the album is this really interesting set of tracks, with a man known for his go hard bangers being introspective about his past, and his relationship with his self image.
For anyone who already enjoyed his music, it was obvious that Lil Nas X can drop a solid track. What he has proven with this album is that he understands pace and flow, and his album slaps too.