Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Lil Nas X details queer experience on debut album ‘MONTERO’

<p>Lil Nas X released his debut album &quot;MONTERO&quot; on Sept. 17, 2021.</p>

Lil Nas X released his debut album "MONTERO" on Sept. 17, 2021.

Lil Nas X’s debut album “MONTERO,” which was released Sept. 17, defies the boundaries of hip-hop’s heteronormative narrative through an electrifying and deeply personal expression of sexuality.

The long-awaited music drop came after a tumultuous few years for the Atlanta native after rising to fame when his country-meets-hip-hop single “Old Town Road” went viral on TikTok. Instead of becoming a one-hit wonder, Lil Nas X, or Montero Lamar Hill, came out as gay and now reigns as a queer symbol in popular culture by using his muscial talent to discuss topics like relationships and fame.

Before listening to “MONTERO,'' I expected Lil Nas X to create a chart-topping, but dull and lack-luster album with the same pop sound as melodic hip-hop that has exhausted the internet recently. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as I came to find out that Hill is not a product of his industry, but someone hell-bent on crossing over genres to speak on emotional depth and the LGBTQ experience.

Lil Nas X is no stranger to mixing pop with rock influences throughout his discography. The same is true for “MONTERO,” where Hill switches between these genres in a fluid motion to express himself.

Title song “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” was released earlier this year and delivers a sultry, decadent melody to lyrics that embrace the freedom to lust after someone you want when you’ve had to hide your feelings in the past.

The song produces a fun, yet intense feeling. The fitting song title drew inspiration from the 2017 film “Call Me By Your Name” about two men in love in Italy, flirting for an entire summer before embarking on a heart-wrenching love affair.

The subsequent music video also demonstrates how comfortable Hill is in his sexuality, using the video to criticize Christianity’s homophobic views.

“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” serves as track one on the full-length album and sets the tone for the journey that Lil Nas X takes listeners on to learn about the depths of fame, loneliness and being an openly gay Black man.

The first half of the album is upbeat, hyper and lucid. Tracks like “INDUSTRY BABY” and “THATS WHAT I WANT” display the self-acceptance Lil Nas X has finally given himself after years of struggling with his sexual orientation.

Lil Nas X also utilizes his new sense of confidence on his track “DEAD RIGHT NOW” to respond to those who didn’t always support him, but now show him fake admiration as he is bathing in fame and all its riches. This song is brilliant in its use of trap beats and horns to invoke a sense of empowerment and knowing your worth. The song lets listeners know that if Lil Nas X doesn’t care about two-faced people, then you shouldn’t either.

Later track “SCOOP” reflects on the positive state Hill is in as he works hard to become a better version of himself. With string synths, the song is absolutely addictive.

As the album progresses, listeners are made privy to Lil Nas X’s darkest secrets and innermost struggles as he grapples with feelings of loneliness and heartbreak.

The somber sounds and slower beats of the album’s second half are complementary to these problems that Hill faces. The latter half uniquely comforts anyone who might be going through the same thing.

“LOST IN THE CITADEL” paints the feelings of heartbreak over an extremely emotional pop rock melody that made me feel like I, too, was in the midst of relationship angst.

Lil Nas X’s ability to capture the most relatable emotions and turn them into something profound is so special in a time when originality is hard to come by.

The final tracks on “MONTERO” might be the most tantalizing, however, because Hill showcases an immense amount of vulnerability on tracks like “VOID” and “LIFE AFTER SALEM,” where chilling falsettos and raw lyrics detail the lack of love he feels in his personal life.

If Lil Nas X wanted listeners to take away anything from his debut album, it is that everyone should know they are accepted, loved and worthy.

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