Image: Charlotte Rutherford.
Every so often, we get an artist who has the ability to change the game, someone who alters the landscape of music. On his debut album Montero, Lil Nas X cements his status as a trailblazer within the industry.
A reflective and personal release, there are two main conceptual threads woven within the fifteen track release. Quietly present is the looming pressure of success, wanting to leave behind a legacy that extends beyond his record breaking debut hit, Old Town Road. More overtly, the 22-year-old rapper/pop star places his sexuality as an out gay man front and centre, changing the archetype of male hip-hop artists. Montero does that both conceptually and sonically, through its genre-bending soundscapes and luscious production.
Opening with the albums flamenco-drenched lead single, Montero (Call Me By Your Name), Lil Nas X kicks off the record with a bang. Earworm melodies and superb production are laced throughout, as the musician seeks more solid ground within a relationship. The Spanish guitar follows through to Tales of Dominica, a personal moment that opens up on his mental health and the anxieties that come with adulthood.
On Dead Right Now, the rapper documents his leap of faith from college student to global superstar, shunning off the haters who labelled him as a one-hit-wonder, before ruminating on his success and hard work on his collaboration with Jack Harlow, Industry Baby. He continues to deal with industry perceptions on One Of Me, which features piano work from the legendary Elton John, whilst on Void he battles with the darker side of fame.
The hooky That’s What I Want sees the rapper longing for love and a sustainable relationship, offering one of the records more pop moments with bright production and pure vocals. The track is juxtaposed by the lust filled Scoop, which shuns a longterm relationship for nights of passion. Doja Cat lends her talents to the cut, with both artists bringing first-class performances to the sass-filled track. Later in the album, Megan Thee Stallion joins the sex-positive Dolla Sign Slime, bringing her spitfire flow to the track.
On Don’t Want It and Life After Salem, Lil Nas X offers his inner-thoughts on loneliness, following on from the 80’s-influenced breakup anthem, Lost In The Citadel. The track offers a stand out moment on the release, as the musician tries to come to terms with the end of a relationship, wrapped in catchy melodies and pensive lyricism.
The albums closer, Am I Dreaming, reunites the rapper with Miley Cyrus, having shared the stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2019. Cyrus’ distinct raspy vocals compliment the rappers deep and dulcet tones, as the pair long to be remembered and leave a legacy with their music, set atop acoustic-led sonics The album closes with the sound of water, referencing the lyric “these thoughts I thought while sinking down”, signifying as Montero comes to a close, there’s a new cycle on the horizon.
The record effortlessly weaves hip-hop and pop sonics, shying away from gimmicks and instead focusing on captivating, honest lyricism and emotion-stirring soundscapes. The eclectic, sparkling debut brings high-quality production from Take a Daytrip, with additional work from the likes of Ryan Tedder and Kanye West, which will have you dancing, crying and feeling empowered. Montero is the perfect introduction to Lil Nas X, lending his birth name to the title and signifying a rebirth within the albums visual identity. Apart from creating a body of work full of awe-inspiring tracks, the album is a proclamation of self-acceptance and backing yourself throughout life’s pressures.
Montero is out now!