Pop | R&B | Hip-Hop
It would be an understatement to say that Lil Nas X’s rise to fame was swift. Following the release (or various releases) of his one-of-a-kind western inspired pop rap single “Old Town Road”, we were treated to the 7 EP; his first effort at a bigger project, and perhaps my favourite EP of 2019.
There was plenty to be excited about, after recognising the sheer amount of potential that Lil Nas X had to offer. But when that EP came out, I perhaps wouldn’t have instantly thought that the artist would become the sensational LGBTQ icon that he is today.
In the year of 2021, we get to see Lil Nas X’s full and uncompromised queerness on full display, with his first ever studio album, MONTERO.
It would also be very fair to say that the spark that ignited this first album cycle certainly had impact, and it came with the pseudo title track “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)”, which was accompanied by what remains to be one of the best music videos this year has had to offer.
As for this first teaser track itself, its catchiness instantly caught on with me and many others. That being said, it was a phenomenally exciting heralder for the album to come.
Following the release of “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” was a small cluster of other amazing teaser tracks, such as the gorgeous and emotional “SUN GOES DOWN”, as well as the incredible “INDUSTRY BABY”. It felt clear from these three tracks, that MONTERO would likely be that kind of album that would be bursting with self-confidence, that will inevitably rub off on the listener.
And as far as the earlier segment of this album goes, MONTERO is completely that. This debut album started off completely the way I had hoped it would’ve done. I also have to appreciate the decision to place the aforementioned pseudo-title track at the very start. It was a move that made total sense, and was a familiar yet undyingly dynamic way to kick this album off.
For those who are looking for a more dimensional album, you needn’t fret; the later half of this album gets far more introspective and emotive, with all of the rawness and heartfelt narrative that “SUN GOES DOWN” presented so beautifully.
I can almost sense the idea of Lil Nas X wanting to present MONTERO as almost a double album of sorts, where one side is upbeat, and presents the more optimistic side of Lil Nas X’s rise to fame, as well as his strong sense of self love, and the other side seeing the artist reflect upon his past, his mental health, and his deep fears and regrets.
I truly do appreciate the two moods presented as individual bodies. However, the dynamic between the two sides on one album presents a double-edged sword.
To put it simply, the first part of the album had me feeling myself so much, that I as a listener felt ill-prepared for the second half. I felt that the first half got me in the mood to play more upbeat tunes. And when they seemed scarce to non-existent on the later half of the album, I did admittedly have the slight temptation to tap out of the album early, and look for those tunes elsewhere.
It’s one of those conundrums that very hard to conquer, when an album like this one is created. I find this to be a shame, as we get some of the most deep and personal cuts on the latter half of this project.
But aside from that one glaring paradox, this album is a fantastic piece, and a marvellous reflection of Lil Nas X’s uniqueness and versatility. While the three teaser tracks still remain my favourites that MONTERO has to offer, there are plenty more memorable and enjoyable tunes, not to mention all of the exciting features that come with it.
In conclusion, I feel that MONTERO is such a musically beefy album, that the tracks within could’ve even been multiplied and spread across two albums; one more upbeat, and the other more somber. Nevertheless, it is a debut for the ages.
Favourite Tracks: MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) | INDUSTRY BABY | SUN GOES DOWN
Least Favourite Track: DOLLA SIGN SLIME
Columbia Records | Sony Music
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 8/10 | Atmosphere: 7/10
Uniqueness: 8/10 | Satisfaction: 7/10 | Narrative: 8/10