No one has been on a bigger run in 2021 than Lil Nas X. 2021 will go down as the year that Lil Nas X truly showed the world who he is; he made sure the world knows he is a superstar and he made sure no one will ever forget his name. Most casual music listeners wrote him off as a 1 hit wonder when he first popped off. For some reason, they couldn’t believe the creator of the song ‘ Old Town Road’ would never be able to follow himself up after he burst onto the scene in such a crazy way. But it became clear at the beginning of 2021 that Lil Nas X was just getting started with the release of his extremely controversial song(and video) ‘MONTERO(Call Me By Your Name.’ The music video for this song and its overall marketing scheme turned heads. In this video Lil Nas X rides a stripper pole to hell and dances with Satan; also, at the time this video came out. Lil Nas X teamed up with the company MSCHF to release a limited number of shoes with a drop of blood in the soles. When asked about this, Lil Nas X stated that he grew up being told he was going to hell for being gay by the Christians surrounding him in his life, so he was just giving people what they wanted. Lil Nas X kept the wild marketing scheme up through the release of his debut record MONTERO. He dropped a couple more singles with overtly sexual gay scenes in the music videos(his videos aren’t any different than most Hip Hop videos, though, besides for the fact men are used instead of women. If one of these is fine, so should the other); he even made multiple social media posts claiming he is “pregnant” prior to this record’s release, the whole sequence ending with him giving birth to MONTERO in a funny and weird skit released at the same time as the album. Now it is time to find out if Lil Nas X’s musicianship is as good as his marketing ability. With all of the hype leading up to MONTERO, can it hold up? This is my opinion of Lil Nas X’s MONTERO. Please let me know in the comments below if you agree with my review of this album, and also let me know in the comments what your favorite songs off of MONTERO are.
The album starts with the aforementioned controversial hit that was heard around the world. Whether or not you hate the music video for ‘MONTERO(Call Me By Your Name'(which if you do, get over it and get over yourself. Learn how to take a joke), you can’t deny how catchy this track is. It has a guitar riff that has a bit of a Latin flair to it that makes anyone want to dance, and the song has an extremely catchy cadence and flow that draws anyone in. On ‘MONTERO(Call Me By Your Name,’ Lil Nas X sings about seeing a boy he likes at the club and wanting to go home with him. It is very lyrically simple and surface-level compared to some of the later tracks on the record. This is okay, though, because it still draws the listener into this record right away. ‘MONTERO(Call Me By Your Name’ is a catchy Dance-Pop track that sets a fun tone to start the album. Following this we get ‘Dead Right Now,’ a bold and grand-sounding Dark Trap track that sounds as larger than life as Lil Nas X seems to be himself. This song’s melody is driven by big, boisterous, and imposing horns that remind so much of artists like Rick Ross and Meek Mill. Lil Nas X’s voice is perfect for this sound, and it brings his eccentric nature to a major level. On this track, Lil Nas X is singing about someone he used to want who is now into him because of his success. He is assuring this person they will never have a chance with him again. ‘INDUSTRY BABY’ featuring Jack Harlow is another triumphant Trap track with a similar instrumental to the song that precedes it. This track was released as the third single from MONTERO and debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been one of the main bangers for the summer of 2021. On ‘INDUSTRY BABY,’ Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow are speaking about they have proved their haters wrong. No one around them believed they would have this kind of success, and now they want their haters and the world, in general, to know they aren’t going anywhere. Following this, we get the song ‘THAT’S WHAT I WANT,’ which was released as a single the same day the album was released and is currently sweeping the nation. This track is a Pop-Rock bop that is extremely catchy and fun. It has the kind of chorus that is impossible to not want to sing along to. The instrumental kind of gives me an Outkast – ‘Hey Ya’ meets Hot Chelle Rae – ‘Tonight Tonight’ feeling. On ‘THAT’S WHAT I WANT,’ Lil Nas X is singing about just wanting to find love. He feels very alone in the world and just wants someone to call his own.
‘THE ART OF REALIZATION’ is a brief interlude that feels like we are in Lil Nas X’s thoughts. He says he feels like he is just driving with no direction, and wonders if he is happy. It is a brief insight into the fact that everything may not be as happy in Lil Nas X’s life as they may seem. Following this, we get ‘SCOOP,’ which features Doja Cat. It is probably the biggest and most fun Pop-Trap banger on the album. The instrumental for this track almost makes it feel like this is a Doja Cat song. The instrumental for this one reminds me a lot of songs like Doja Cat’s ‘Get Into It (Yuh).’ Lil Nas X and Doja Cat sound so natural together on this track: they feed off of each other’s energy in a palpable way. ‘SCOOP’ is such a fun track that will bring the mood up at any party or club. Next, we get one of the most interesting and eclectic songs on the record, ‘ONE OF ME’ featuring Elton John. It is a Pop-Trap ballad with a very spacey and atmospheric Piano Riff provided by Elton John which sets a very interesting tone. I love the vocals on this track. The way the song is produced and the way Lil Nas X’s vocals are distorted is cool. On ‘ONE OF ME,’ Lil Nas X is singing about how he proved so many people who thought he would be a one-hit-wonder wrong. After ‘Old Town Road,’ so many people wrote him off. ‘ONE OF ME’ is his assertion that he is not going anywhere and that his talent can take him as far as he wants to go.
Tell me, are you feeling down? Are you happy? Do your dreams still sink in down? Tell me, are we finished now? ‘Cause every time you leave, you find your way to come back around… – ‘LOST IN THE CITADEL’
Lil Nas X finally brings an Emo moment to this record with the song ‘LOST IN THE CITADEL.’ This track has an upbeat Pop-Rock sound that is super catchy and makes me want to dance and cry at the same time. It has a feeling to it that reminds me of Emo Pop-Rock bands like Hellogoodbye and Cartel. On ‘LOST IN THE CITADEL,’ Lil Nas X is singing about a failed relationship and missing his former partner. Even though had didn’t necessarily always feel great while in the relationship, he still wants this person back on some level because the good times were so good. The next song, ‘DOLLA SIGN SLIME,’ which features Megan There Stallion, is probably the most basic and shallow song on the record in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, it is a Trap banger, but it doesn’t fit in super well with the rest of the record and sort of feels like a throwaway. It’s almost like the executive producers of this record felt like they needed to make sure they got Megan on this record and this was kind of thrown together to appease that need. ‘DOLLA SIGN SLIME’ is a fun track, but it just doesn’t feel very cohesive with the rest of the record. Following this, we get ‘TALES OF DOMINICA,’ which is one of the most unique and eclectic songs on this record. This song has a Funky guitar riff which fuels the melody, and a beat that has a bit of a Show tune Pop feeling to it. This song almost feels like it should be in a “Hip Hop” musical like Hamilton with the way it’s put together. It is super catchy and truly draws the listener in. On ‘TALES OF DOMINICA,’ Lil Nas X seems to be talking about his mental health and feelings of never being enough for anyone. He just wants to be somewhere where everyone loves and appreciates him for who he is. The other song from this record that was released as a single is the song ‘SUN GOES DOWN.’ Because of the spectacle around the releases of the other singles from this record, I feel like this one ended up being way more low-key and not receiving as much hype. ‘SUN GOES DOWN’ has a calm and easy-going R&B Pop sound to it that is very sweet and nice to listen to. Similar to the song that precedes it, ‘SUN GOES DOWN’ shows off a more sensitive and sweet side to Lil Nas X than what the world is used to from him. I appreciate hearing this different side to Lil Nas X because it shows how well-rounded he is.
There are quite a few songs on this record that have instrumentals that one would not expect to hear from Lil Nas X if they only knew his main hits. ‘VOID’ is another song that fits into this mold. ‘VOID’ is a somber and calm Pop-Rock track that feels like it came right out of the 90s. It has a melancholy and almost downtrodden sound that reminds me a lot of early music by Radiohead and Blur. I love the slight distortion on the guitar riff in his track, as it adds an interesting level of texture. On ‘VOID,’ Lil Nas X is singing to a family member or friend he loves about how he needed to get away from the situation he was in. He was not happy at all with his life and had to find a way to chase his dreams and find a way to achieve some sort of happiness. The next song, ‘DON’T WANT IT,’ brings us back to that Pop-Trap sound Lil Nas X excels at. The instrumental for this one reminds me a lot of ‘SCOOP.’ It is simple and fun and just makes me want to dance. I love the Steel Drum-sounding melody in the background of this song, as it reminds me of the “Caribbean Trap” kind of music Lil Yachty and Young Thug made popular in the early 2010s. On ‘DON’T WANT IT,’ Lil Nas X is singing about moving on from his old life and trying to focus on what makes currently makes him happy. Even though he has come so far, he still struggles to find what he wants and needs. ‘’LIFE AFTER SALEM’ has quickly become one of the fan favorites from this record. It shows off a darker side to Lil Nas X that we are not used to seeing, and also shows off how great of a singer he can be. This song has a Grunge and Alternative Rock sound to it that feels like it came right out of the 90s. It has such a dark and heavy feeling to it. On ‘LIFE AFTER SALEM,’ Lil Nas X is singing about someone who used to love him, pleasing for them to take what they want from him so his feelings for this person aren’t useless. He doesn’t want to let go of this person and will do whatever this person wants to keep them from leaving. The album closes out with the song ‘AM I DREAMING’ which features Miley Cyrus. This is yet another song from this record one would not expect to hear from Lil Nas X. It has an old-school Folk-Rock feeling to it. Lil Nas X’s vocals show up in a big way on this song once again. It feels like his voice is so adaptable and that he can sound nice on so many different kinds of music. Miley Cyrus was a perfect choice for the feature on this song. Her voice just fits this instrumental so well. On ‘AM I DREAMING,’ Lil Nas X is singing about how all of his success has not necessarily made him happy. He feels like he is in a nightmare because he achieved everything he ever wanted and feels the same as he always did. ‘AM I DREAMING’ is a cool way to end this record because it provides a dose of reality that we all need.
Going into listening to it, I have to say I had pretty high expectations for MONTERO. Fortunately, Lil Nas X exceeded these expectations on this record. MONTERO shows how diverse an artist Lil Nas X can be. He is a master of making Pop-Trap bangers and marketing himself, but MONTERO proves he is so much more than that. Lil Nas X is a great lyricist and singer, and he seems to be able to excel at any genre he wants to excel in. I’m other words, Lil Nas X is a true Popstar. Those people who dislike Lil Nas X better get used to him, because he is going nowhere. MONTERO proves how talented he is and that he will be a staple in the music and entertainment industries for a long time.