When Lil Nas X released “Old Town Road” in 2018 no one could’ve predicted the level of success and fame the 22-year-old rocketed to. “Old Town Road,” which was created using a $30 instrumental track bought on the internet, is 15 times platinum and holds the record for longest charting number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Nas X blasted on to the music scene swiftly but slowed down and took his time in creating the just-released Montero, his first full length studio album.
During his break, Lil Nas X stayed more than relevant. In June of 2019 the singer/songwriter came out as gay and since then he’s released an EP and multiple successful singles. He is one of Spotify’s most streamed artists with around 56,000,000 monthly listeners. Lil Nas X’s significance in pop culture has been cemented by his catchy songs and uncanny ability to turn any controversy into a meme, all while being unapologetically himself. Montero dives into who he is on the surface just as much as who he is underneath.
Ever since his career starter “Old Town Road,” a country/hip hop crossover, Lil Nas X has made it clear that he won’t be confined to one genre. And if you’re looking for an album that’s strictly hip hop, this isn’t the album for you.
Montero brings multiple levels to the table in terms of genre bending. That makes it hard to truly identify the overall sound of the album. This isn’t to say the album is disjointed. In fact, the chill trap beats, 80s and 00s callbacks, and grungy guitar sounds are harmoniously asymmetrical.
There’s more within Montero than Lil Nas X’s genre creativity. Lil Nas X brings listeners through a detailed story of his life – both past and present.
There are the fun, feel-good anthems fans are used to such as “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” “INDUSTRY BABY,” and “DOLLA SIGN SLIME.” But there’s also a new vulnerability that we have only seen in glimpses of Instagram confessions and in interview snippets. “TALES OF DOMINICA” and “VOID” emotionally chronicle feelings of loneliness and insecurity. The second to last song, “LIFE AFTER SALEM,” sets up the finale of the album perfectly. It gives listeners a new sound of heavy, grimy guitar riffs and vocals to digest before the tranquility of the final track “AM I DREAMING.”
Lil Nas X is constantly changing and evolving, and the contents of Montero show that he’s only beginning his journey.