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Photo courtesy Billboard // Lil Nas X

Album review: Lil Nas X’s MONTERO

By Mihret Amdu Yirgeta, October 27 2021—

I’ll be honest – Lil Nas X was nothing more than “the Old Town Road guy” to me for the longest time. I followed him on Twitter because he was funny and that was where I found out he was coming out with a new album. The marketing for the album was brilliant and hilarious so I had to listen to it. To say I was surprised would be an understatement — I could not stop listening to it. I haven’t listened to an album on repeat like this since Alessia Cara’s Know-It-All in 2015. 

MONTERO is Lil Nas X’s debut studio album containing a wide variety of songs, each unique and different and showcasing Lil Nas X’s versatility. Featuring collaborations with some of the top artists today, the album is a rollercoaster of emotions, with songs like “SCOOP” featuring Doja Cat and “THAT’S WHAT I WANT” that make you want to get up and dance, to songs like “SUN GOES DOWN” and “VOID” that touch on some sensitive yet relatable emotions such as not fitting in and loneliness. I have cried to an embarrassing number of the songs on this album. I was not expecting to but here we are. 

Lil Nas X put his very soul into this album. The songs speak of loneliness, how he felt like he did not fit in and trying to figure out if there was something wrong with him. It is surprisingly vulnerable and raw, even if there is the occasional catchy pop song. In “SUN GOES DOWN” he says “Always thinkin’, “Why my lips so big?” / Was I too dark? Can they sense my fears?” 

This resonated with me because it’s not uncommon to feel insecure about our physical appearance. Even the music video ties into themes of  insecurities and not fitting in, starring a young Lil Nas X at a highschool prom. There’s a scene in the video where he walks through his classmates clearly feeling out of place which felt very powerful to me. 

While the chorus says “I wanna run away / Don’t wanna lie, I don’t want a life / Send me a gun and I’ll see the sun,” which is very dark, it does have a more uplifting message in the end where he says “I know that you want to cry / But there’s much more to life than dying / Over your past mistakes / And people who threw dirt on your name.” Has anyone guessed my favourite song on this album yet?

Also in my top three songs on this album is “THAT’S WHAT I WANT.” It is an incredibly catchy song and the music video is super fun to watch. While it does have an upbeat tune it resonates with the idea of wanting a partner or someone by your side. The lines “These days, I’m way too lonely / I’m missing out, I know / These days, I’m way too alone” speaks to this, but it’s set to an upbeat dance-y tempo, so it’s not too depressing.

Another recommendation from this album is “DON’T WANT IT” which is just a very empowering listen. It’s very upbeat  — it definitely makes me want to dance  — and it talks about the things Lil Nas X has achieved so far. Listening to “DON’T WANT IT” feels like the scene right after a training montage in a movie where the protagonist shows up to the main fight and you know they’re going to win. The line “And I’m fuckin’ living proof that if you want it / You can have anything right before your eyes,” should be printed and framed as an inspirational quote.

There have been multiple instances while I was listening to MONTERO that I thought, “Oh, I understand how that feels.” It is incredibly heartfelt and relatable but also very fun to listen to. MONTERO is definitely my album of the year — I don’t think anything will come close to how good this is to me. If anyone hands me an aux cord, they should know that this is the only thing I will be blasting from the car’s speakers.

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