A newfound star power shines bright for an unconventially creative artist
Lil Nas X, an Atlanta-born rapper and singer, has stirred controversy and popularity since the start of his career. His debut album Montero, titled after his birth name, is nothing short of that. Despite the tabloid stories created from Lil Nas X’s tendentious (and amazingly creative) music videos to partner the buzz of the project, fans were also able to feel a much more vulnerable side of the “Old Town Road” singer.
After he became a household name from the accidental country hit under his belt, public perception of him as an artist and a person drastically shifted after coming out to the world. Now known as a Black queer man deciding to fully express his pride in everything he did, he immediately was an easy target for homophobic slurs, but at the same time, received so much love for speaking his truth. He thrived off of those who could relate to his story just as much as he did from those who hated it. He soon turned the criticism into comedy, and his actions became more and more “controversial.” This is where it ties into the most talked about song of the album: “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name).”
“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” the album’s kickoff track, speaks in sexual innuendos about a specific kind of relationship. Lil Nas X makes his sexuality quite clear in this song, not only through the lyrics but through its music video as well. Every scene left viewers with their jaw dropped, both positively and negatively, which is exactly what he aimed for. He was able to show off his star power as well as the amount of thought process behind his craft. It was his way of expressing his authenticity and no longer wanting to be viewed as an “acceptable gay person,” he told Variety. The message mixed with the perfectly polished production done by Take a Daytrip makes “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” a heavy hitter in this project. Another popular track with a fun, off-the-wall music video to go along with it is “Industry Baby;” it is the perfect trendy song that doesn’t overdo the trendy sound. What makes the song even more enjoyable for his listeners is the feature with Jack Harlow, an upcoming rapper that all the girls swoon over nowadays.
Diving into the more vulnerable areas of Montero, “Dead Right Now” and “One of Me” touch on topics that are not only sensitive for Lil Nas X but for any of his listeners, especially those of the Black and LGBTQ+ community. “Dead Right Now” speaks about his strained relationship with his parents and how they essentially mean nothing to him anymore. Subliminally described in the song, his mother, who allegedly struggles with drug abuse, and his father, who wasn’t around nor accepted his sexuality, shaped him to be the independent and prideful person he is today. “One of Me” highlights the experience of someone like him constantly under the public eye. With lyrics such as “I like this/ I don’t like that/ Do this here/ Don’t you do that,” he emphasized the constant judgment he can never escape from.
Lil Nas X also shows off more of his rapping skills as well as his versatility as an artist through tracks such as “Dolla Sign Slime,” “Tales of Dominica” and “Am I Dreaming.” Featuring none other than the hottest female rapper of today, Megan The Stallion, Lil Nas X had no choice but to throw a few bars in “Dolla Sign Slime.” His deep voice, partnered with his rhymes, create a smooth but rugged tone. On the flip side, “Tales of Dominica” and “Am I Dreaming,” featuring Miley Cyrus, explore more into a soft, indie sound. It’s very refreshing to hear from the rapper and singer as he pulls it off with ease.
Lil Nas X and his loud and proud project Montero serve as a breath of fresh air for both the music industry and music lovers. The creativity he’s able to exhibit and taking it back to the early 2000s, where music videos were almost more important than the songs themselves, sets him apart from the rest.