Review | ‘MONTERO’ is a glorious come-to-form for Lil Nas X

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

“Montero” is the newest album by American rapper and singer-songwriter Lil Nas X.

By Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

Lil Nas X is not hiding anymore.

He hasn’t been hiding for a long time actually. The pop star came out as gay in June 2019, but with the release of his new eponymous album “MONTERO,” it is very clear that Lil Nas does not “give a f—” what anyone thinks of him.

As a queer Black man who is open about his sexuality and one of the biggest pop stars in the game right now, this album is a phenomenal and heartwarming accomplishment.

Also, the album simply slaps.

Lil Nas X has been dropping singles from his debut albums for a couple of months now. Starting with the stunning and evocative “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” whose lyrics and music video — which set Fox News on yet another homophobic rampage — explicitly call to queer sex, love and experiences.

“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” is probably my favorite song on the album. Not only is it a great song to just dance to, but it’s also full of LGBTQ+ references — whether we’re talking about the song’s title or Plato’s ancient Greek excerpts carved on a tree in the music video.

Most of the “pop-ier” songs come during the beginning of the album, including songs like the album’s third single, “INDUSTRY BABY.” “INDUSTRY BABY”’s already iconic horn riffs are something I look forward to hearing in a club soon. And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve listened to that 30-second outro. I request that Lil Nas makes that part a song on its own for me.

My new favorite song on the album is by far “THAT’S WHAT I WANT,” where Lil Nas brushes hands with his country music debut. The song, accompanied by some lively acoustic guitar, pays homage not just to “Old Town Road” but also Lil Nas’ evolution as an artist and a person since the song rose to popularity in April 2019.

And of course, the music video is yet another home run, accompanied by a steamy romance with a football player and literal scene-for-scene “Brokeback Mountain” references.

There’s a noticeable shift on the album after “DOLLA SIGN SLIME” where the songs begin to speak less to Lil Nas’ newfound empowerment and more to the pain and insecurities he’s held on to for no doubt most of his life.

“TALES OF DOMINICA” starts this trend. The first time I heard it I thought it sounded very much like a song off Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” with that siren-esque wailing quality to the vocals. It sounds lonesome and unsure.

Considering that the post-chorus starts with “I’ve been living in my lowest, it’s safe to say. Hope my little bit of hope don’t fade away,” I don’t think my assessment is very far off.

Most of the following songs are in this vein. Exploring the hard fact that when you’re queer in America, especially Black and queer, your life comes with just as much pain as it can liberation.

In “VOID,” Lil Nas speaks to his younger self from the “Old Town Road.” Despite his fame, Lil Nas is still having problems finding love, perhaps even more so in the spotlight. In this song, Lil Nas speaks to the fact that the repression queer people impose on themselves doesn’t just go away. And after his first song went platinum in a very homophobic genre, I am sure Lil Nas struggles with how his fame and personal life intersect.

I could go on and on about this album’s LGBTQ+ themes, and that’s the point. “MONTERO” is unapologetically queer. From Lil Nas X’s highs of a new whirlwind love to the lows of begging and pleading with some higher power to take your feelings, and your very identity, away.

He encapsulates both perfectly. And it doesn’t matter if people throw a fit about it. Lil Nas has shown to have mastery over the internet. The album promotion — from his tweeting to his TikToks to his “pregnancy” announcement — goes to show just how brilliant Lil Nas X is at garnering media attention.

Any press is good press as they say.

But I like to remember, too, that as much as Lil Nas brushes off all of the hate he gets, he is also just a 22-year-old man who hurts and grieves like the rest of us do.

Pop stardom is not for everyone — most of the people who attain the level of fame that Lil Nas has don’t usually do well with it. So imagine being Black and gay too. Like there wasn’t enough crap people were going to throw his way.

Whether or not Lil Nas has climbed out of his “lowest,” and I truly hope that he has, I think this album release will bring him some clarity. And all the money he could ever want. Because there’s no one else in the celebrity game right now that deserves it more.

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