Lil Nas X’s MONTERO delivers a strong message about his artistic transformation

Carolyn Parmer

It’s an album! Two weeks after announcing his “pregnancy” on Instagram, Lil Nas X brought his baby MONTERO into the world.  

From rap to country to groundbreaking dance numbers, few can pin down Lil Nas X or his unique rhythm. In 2019, his country-rap hit “Old Town Road” became the longest-leading No. 1 single in Hot 100 history at 17 weeks on top. Then this March, Lil Nas X debuted his music video for “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” in which he presents Satan with a lap dance, for which he won three awards at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. 

But with fame came struggles, many of which he alludes to in MONTERO. In 2018, Lil Nas X dropped out of college and devoted his time to creating music. His parents disapproved, so he lived with his sister, during which time he bought a beat online that became the background music for “Old Town Road.” 

With MONTERO, Lil Nas X proves his talents extend beyond the twangy hip-hop hit. Starting off strong with the wildly popular single, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” the album documents his journey to the top of the music industry.

After the album’s namesake comes “DEAD RIGHT NOW,” which exposes the hypocrisy that accompanies fame: Those who praise Lil Nas X now he’s a household name never reached out when he needed them most. This fast-paced track alludes to some of Lil Nas X’s struggles, like quitting college and fighting with his dad. 

The rapper sings with an unapologetically honest voice throughout the album. Lyrics like, “you was never really rooting for me anyway” from “INDUSTRY BABY” and “word on the block is you fell off’” from “ONE OF ME” tell his listeners he knows some didn’t believe his fame would last beyond “Old Town Road.”

Lil Nas mixes things up with a 24-second speaking clip titled “THE ART OF REALIZATION”  ending it with the words “I’m unsure / I’m” and then finishes the sentence with “sure” at the beginning of the next track “SCOOP.” While this transition has a wow factor, the rest of “SCOOP,” where the singer repeats “scoop” 34 times, doesn’t. 

Jack Harlow, Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus join Lil Nas X on various songs. Cyrus and Lil Nas X’s song “AM I DREAMING” wraps up the album with the sound of splashing of water at the end, tying listeners back to the album cover that depicts him falling from the sky toward a river.

While some songs felt ready-made for a Tik Tok trend, other more vulnerable songs in MONTERO adequately show the “Old Town Road” singer’s entrance into a new era.

4 baby bumps out of 5