MONTERO - LIL NAS X ALBUM REVIEW
It's safe to say that MONTERO by Lil Nas X has been the album that everyone in the industry has been waiting for.
From the crazy promotion to the fact that every song he's released has been a hit, it seems like everyone has been waiting with bated breath for Lil Nas X's debut album and it certainly hasn't disappointed.
Much like the singles previous to its release, Lil Nas X combines pop and rap to create an addictive sound that critics and listeners alike just can't seem to get enough of. Of course, Nas is far from the first person to release music that is a pop-rap blend, but his specific take on it feels incredibly individual to him.
There's no doubt that, even before delving into the album, it's a game-changer for the industry. For his sexuality as an out gay man to be at the forefront of the genre rap right now is phenomenal, as historically the genre hasn't exactly been welcome to homosexuality with DaBaby's recent outburst being a perfect example. Lil Nas X is putting his own experiences of love at the head of this album, much like any other rapper does, but because of his sexuality, this isn't just 'another' rap album; it's a step towards a more accomodating world of hip-hop and rap.
Throughout Lil Nas X's career, it's never quite been certain whether anything he does is serious. A lot of the marketing around this album has been humorous and tongue-in-cheek, and his general personal feels like some kind of giant performance. However on MONTERO we do see a more dialed-back version of him in amongst the glitz and glamour; some of the tracks on the album do feel honest, and behind their upbeat flow, feel very vulnerable. On 'DEAD RIGHT NOW' we see mention of his family and what appears to be the difficult relationship he had with them. Then with 'VOID' we get a brutally honest insight into the depths of Lil Nas X's mind when he's at his lowest, saying "See, I'm gettin' tired of the way I been livin'/ I'd rather die than to live with these feelings / Stuck in this world where it's so much to prove / Every win gives you more room to lose". The power that these kinds of confessions have between the more performative songs is really great and shows there's more to Lil Nas X than his quick wit and controversy.
The title of the album is Lil Nas's real name, so it shouldn't be that much of a surprise that things get personal, but you never know what to expect from this chaotic of a superstar.
It's impossible to talk about this album without talking about the star-studded collaborations. Lil Nas has some of the biggest names in the industry, past and present, with him on his tracks. This acts as something refreshing but not too startlingly different from his solo tracks. These collaborations do exactly what they should; they elevate the album, they don't take it over. Elton John's influence is all over 'ONE OF ME' without actually hearing his voice solo at any point during the song. 'SCOOP with Doja Cat is one of the best hits on their album, with her energy perfectly matching Lil Nax X's. Miley's gruff vocals sound phenomenal against Lil Nas's own lower tone in the closing track 'AM I DREAMING', and I don't think anything else needs to be said about 'INDUSTRY BABY' with Jack Harlow; it's already a smash hit.
Lil Nas X was at an interesting place when releasing MONTERO as he was already huge in the industry before releasing his debut album. It must be incredibly difficult to have the world's expectations on your shoulders when releasing your first-ever LP, but it seems that Lil Nas X thrived on his success and made an album that was far from a letdown. It is worth saying, that is not just the music itself that makes this album a success, but the creativity behind the visuals and the marketing. It seems we've been missing a real album era since, well, maybe Taylor Swift's reputation era or more recently Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia run, and Lil Nas X has certainly delivered.