Montero – Lil Nas X Review

Sydney Ziemniak, staff writer

The internet’s favorite rapper has finally put out his first album, “Montero,” after two singles and many social media teasers to build anticipation.

Lil Nas X, at only 22 years old, has certainly established himself as a musician to be reckoned with. He initially became popular in 2019 with the viral song “Old Town Road,” breaking records as the longest-running #1 single at 17 weeks straight. He didn’t remain a one-hit-wonder, though—earlier this year, Nas dropped the lead single off his album “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” along with a controversial music video that rapidly amassed millions of views. On Sept. 17, the highly-anticipated debut album “Montero” was released.

The LP’s title, named after the rapper’s real name Montero Lamar Hill, is fitting considering its themes of identity. Nas is able to properly express himself through the music he really wants to make, a complete 180 after the “Old Town Road” internet meme. What makes “Montero” such an outstanding album are the lyrics and meanings behind them. Most of the songs, such as the title track, “Sun Goes Down,” and “That’s What I Want” go into his experiences as an openly gay Black man. Nas brings an important perspective especially because he does not only touch on the struggles but also embraces and sings of the amazing parts about his identity.

However, when it comes to the actual musical talent behind the visuals and lyrics, Nas is lacking. His voice is constantly coated in auto-tune, and while this can be appreciated as an artistic choice, there comes a point when a listener must wonder if the artist can even sing. Additionally, “Montero” was littered with songs in which the features stood out more than Nas himself, particularly Doja Cat in “Scoop” and Megan Thee Stallion in “Dolla Sign Slime.” Even in “One of Me,” in which Elton John only plays piano, his part was still far more intriguing than Nas’s repetitive voice.

The highlights of the album, though, are the horn instrumentals featured in many tracks, giving it a unique sound; as well as the juxtaposition between “Industry Baby” and “Don’t Want It.” The former song is essentially Nas announcing his achievements as a musician despite, like anyone in the limelight, amassing a particular audience that hates and doubts him. The latter, however, touches on the unfortunate reality behind successful artists, such as the first verse when he sings, “I smoked myself to sleep, I’m sad, I think I’m feelin’ lonely / Took one too many shots last night and I spent all my money” and later, “I’ve done things in my past I’m sorry for, so please don’t hold me / Old people in my life should know that I am not the old me.” People tend to forget that celebrities are still humans who experience the same struggles and emotions as anyone else. Fame is naturally stressful, and in the age of social media, it is even more difficult to avoid.

Overall, there’s no denying Lil Nas X’s debut is a solid and unique album, despite the lacking vocals. After a long string of singles since the initial release of “Old Town Road” with no real consistency or corresponding album, it seems as though Nas has truly discovered a sound that fits him, as well as an audience who will support it.