Lil Nas X’s “MONTERO:” An impressive debut

Lil Nas X debut album, MONTERO, album art.

Photo courtesy of @lilnasx via Instagram

Lil Nas X debut album, MONTERO, album art.

Since his debut two years ago, Lil Nas X has managed to defy the odds. Beginning his career with the 2019 hit “Old Town Road,” the longest-running number-one song since the chart’s creation; it was a memorable start. With the release of his debut album “MONTERO” on Sept. 17, he proves that he is here to stay.

“MONTERO” focuses on Lil Nas X’s identity, with multiple songs about his sexuality, success and pop culture presence. The album title is inspired by his birth name, Montero Lamar Hill.

Nas described the inspiration behind the album to Variety. “The idea of ‘He’s a cool gay person; he’s an acceptable gay person,’ I used to see things like that as a compliment, but it’s not,” he said. “I wanted to be even more authentic in my music and let people into my life.”

The album hosts four singles out of the 15 total songs: “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name),” “SUN GOES DOWN,” “INDUSTRY BABY” and “THATS WHAT I WANT.” Each is better than the next. Nas started off strong, with “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)” peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

“INDUSTRY BABY,” featuring rapper Jack Harlow, is currently doing well on the Hot 100. Peaking at number two and currently sitting at number six, you’re bound to hear this one whenever you turn on the radio–and “Call Me by Your Name,” too.

Let’s get into some of the music. Starting off the album is “Call Me by Your Name.” This one is an earworm. Especially with the controversy with the music video’s use of religious imagery tied in with gay imagery, Lil Nas X kept his head held high and was unapologetic for his sexuality–as it should be. To put it simply, this song is great.

“INDUSTRY BABY” comes next. I love the marching band brass and drums combined with rap beats. I believe Nas and Harlow complement each other’s voices well. Imagine this song played by a marching band at a football game–impeccable.

The most recent single, “THATS WHAT I WANT,” is fourth on the tracklist. With a more upbeat tempo and driving guitar, it feels more pop than rap. I can picture this song doing well on the pop charts. The sadder lyrics and upbeat instrumentals juxtapose one another but fit perfectly at the same time. And if you want to be in your feels, watch the music video.

“THE ART OF REALIZATION” is an interlude that fades perfectly into “SCOOP” featuring Doja Cat. “SCOOP” is one of the best on the album. Doja was a great pick for this song. Her voice has a unique tone as compared to other artists, and adds a fast-paced lyricism to Nas’ laid-back verses.

“DOLLA SIGN SLIME” featuring Meghan Thee Stallion is my favorite on the album. With the trumpets in the background, it nearly sounds like a renaissance-era song mixed with hip-hop production. All of the features on this album complement Nas’s vocals well. Though Meghan’s feature lasts only 30 seconds, she packs quite a bit of lyrical punch into this short time.

“SUN GOES DOWN” has a different feel than other songs on the album. It’s much slower and more pop compared to the rest. While not one of my favorites, I can appreciate its lyricism and meaning, being about his youth and struggling with his identity. It is nice to see an artist that can branch out of their usual rhythm and explore other genres.

The album ends off with “AM I DREAMING” featuring Miley Cyrus. Similar to “SUN GOES DOWN,” this one also isn’t rap. It’s easy to scream the lyrics with how held out some of the notes are. I am surprised that the two artists fit so well together because of their differences in voices and styles, but they really shine in their harmonies. With the last lyrics being “Never forget me and everything I’ve done,” it’s easy to see that Nas wants his pop culture impact to be remembered–and I think it will be.

“MONTERO” is an impressive debut album. It shows that Nas X is not a one-hit-wonder, as he previously was thought to be during the “Old Town Road” era. In “DONT WANT IT,” he highlights some of his accomplishments by including voiceovers of winning an award and getting a number one song.

With the last lyrics of his album being “Never forget me and everything I’ve done,” it’s easy to see that Nas wants his pop culture impact to be remembered–and I think it will be. I am excited to see what else Nas accomplishes in the future. Based on this album, his career is just beginning.