Lil Nas X debuts eponymous album ‘MONTERO’

(Illustration by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

Montero Lamar Hill — better known as Lil Nas X — recently released his long-awaited debut album, “MONTERO.” The 22-year-old rapper and singer/songwriter shows off his musical and emotional range in this 15-track album. Featuring musicians like Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion and Elton John — just to name a few — it’s no surprise the album has so many hits.

Lil Nas X has made quite the name for himself over the past few years, especially after releasing his Grammy award-winning song “Old Town Road.” He since released multiple chart-topping singles like “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name),” “SUN GOES DOWN” and “INDUSTRY BABY,” — the latter featuring rapper Jack Harlow.

After coming out as gay in June 2019, Lil Nas X made a point not to hide his sexuality. Despite backlash surrounding the subject matter of his music videos — along with the infamous “Satan Shoes,” — Lil Nas X has not let the haters tear him down.

Opening with the title track, “MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name)” tells the story of toxic infatuation and unrequited feelings. There’s organized upbeat chaos to the song, matching the lyrical and visual context of the song. In the music video, Lil Nas X is clearly criticizing the way religion vilifies and dehumanizes the LGBTQ+ community. When everyone already says you’re going to hell, why not go down on a stripper pole?

“DEAD RIGHT NOW” breaks down the fake interactions Lil Nas X has experienced since his music blew up. Whether fake friends or the strained relationship with his mother, he lets them know he doesn’t need them anymore, singing, “I’ll treat you like you’re dead right now / I’m on your head right now / You wanna f— with me so bad right now.”

Featuring rapper and singer/songwriter Doja Cat, “SCOOP” has a simple, catchy chorus and a sick verse by Doja that just makes you want to dance along. Lil Nas X knows his worth with this song as he raps, “They lookin’ at my wrist, now watch it hit back / My ex hittin’ my phone, tryna get back / Don’t you hit me with that, ‘Miss you,’ I ain’t with that.”

Lil Nas X shows off his range in genre with “LOST IN THE CITADEL,” which sounds more pop-rock compared to his other tracks. It also shows off his vocal range and ability, using his higher register in the energetic chorus and his lower register in the calmer verses. You can hear the emotion in his voice when he sings, “I need time to get up and get off the floor / I need time to realize that I can’t be yours.”

Sticking with the rock genre, “LIFE AFTER SALEM” is a slow rock ballad about being stuck in an empty relationship where feelings have faded. He no longer knows who his lover is or what they want from him. These conflicting emotions are showcased with an intense guitar instrumental.

Closing out the album is a duet with Miley Cyrus on the song “AM I DREAMING,” a simple, heartbreaking song consisting mainly of acoustic guitar and some strings during the chorus. Cyrus and Lil Nas X reflect on how their experiences in the music industry have shaped them — both positively and negatively. He opens the song, “Every song, every dream filled with hell from beyond / As I’m sinking, I relive the story.” He has bittersweet feelings about his success, especially given the public criticism he’s experienced.

The songs I’ve highlighted show off the range of the album, but there are many more amazing tracks to listen to. With this being his debut album, Lil Nas X should have a bright future ahead in his music career.

My name is Jared Shuff, and I am a former editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously, I worked as the arts & culture editor and as a contributing writer for the news desk. I am a senior in secondary education with an emphasis in English/journalism. I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas, and attended Hutchinson Community College before transferring to K-State in 2020.