trigger warning: suicide

In July 2020, Lil Nas X teased a section of the chorus of an untitled song that would become the number one single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).” “MONTERO” is the title track of Lil Nas X’s debut album, which was released on Sept. 17, 2021. 

“MONTERO” has 14 tracks and one spoken interlude. The album touches on R&B and rap influences, but is mostly a pop project. There are currently four singles and they each have a music video. The singles are “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” “SUN GOES DOWN,” “INDUSTRY BABY” and “THAT’S WHAT I WANT.”

Lil Nas X’s album was highly anticipated and he was able to deliver on every song. With each listen, the album gets better. Nine songs were produced by the New York based duo Take a Daytrip, composed of Denzel Baptiste and David Biral. 

The duo has worked with Lil Nas X in the past and their lengthy relationship shows in the seamless transitions and innovative beats. Take a Daytrip produced the two songs on “MONTERO” that heavily featured brass instruments. As a music nerd, I really appreciated the care and skill that Take a Daytrip, Lil Nas X and other collaborators put into the mixing and mastering of the album.

“MONTERO” opens with the title track and sets the tone for a genre-bending project that focuses on identity, acceptance, and perseverance. We would expect nothing less from a Black gay icon-in-the-making such as Lil Nas X.

There seems to be a connective narrative throughout the album that centers on a few concepts. One concept to mention would be centering queer Blackness and how its is received in mainstream media and everyday life. Lil Nas X mentions themes of suicide, “praying the gay away,” and trying to find someone who loves you and your faults.

Queer Black people are expected to be on 10 at all times, but that isn’t sustainable. Lil Nas X shares raw emotion and speaks from past experiences in a way that most of us wish we could. Showcasing your true self to friends and family is hard enough, but Lil Nas X does that to millions of people and it’s very encouraging.

There is also an undercurrent of Lil Nas X responding to critics and people praying for his downfall. Throughout the album, he references being called a one-hit wonder from his success with his 2019 single and first remix “Old Town Road.” Lil Nas X expressed apprehension on how his fans would receive his work because it moved away from the gimmicky feel of his previous EP or the four remixes to “Old Town Road.”

When I listened to the interlude entitled “THE ART OF REALIZATION,” it  hit me that Lil Nas X is only 22, a little over a year older than me. He briefly talked about things we all feel as young adults. Not knowing if we’re happy with what we’ve accomplished. Not quite understanding how big of an impact we might have on others.

“MONTERO” by Lil Nas X has the potential to be the album of the year. Each song is a certified banger and the featured artists (Jack Harlow, Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus) all pull their weight to elevate the experience. I’ve been playing “MONTERO” at least once a day since its release and I plan to do so until I’ve learned every single word. 

I look forward to seeing what this era is going to look like for this Black king and what he will decide to gift us with. I can’t wait to see a “MONTERO” tour!