Kate Picone ’22
Lil Nas X has proven himself to be much more than a one-hit-wonder with his new album, Montero. The star first made his mark on the music industry with his 2019 hit song “Old Town Road,” which spread through the nation like wildfire. The song was not only an amusing take on the country music genre, but came to be a smash “country” hit with legend Billy Ray Cyrus collaborating on a remixed version of the track.
Usually, when songs from a little-known artist rise to the top charts so quickly, there is a slow decline in the recognition that their music receives until they simply fall off the scene. Lil Nas X is anything but that kind of artist.
He has proven himself to be more than simply a talented rapper, using his platform to help further the LGBTQ+ movement. The rap genre has traditionally included stereotypes of men talking about getting girls, objectifying them, and discriminating against gay people. By being an openly gay rapper, Lil Nas X is changing the rap genre for the better. He has shown that he cannot only be himself in the music industry, but also that he can use his unique personality and talents to make amazing music and inspire others.
Montero, while filled with energetic songs that can be blasted at parties, also includes a self-reflection on the artist’s rise to fame and how he deals with being a queer man of color. Although he makes it look easy, dressing flamboyantly on the red carpet and referencing his sexuality in social media and his music, Montero shows that Lil Nas X nonetheless feels discouraged sometimes. In a soft track, “SUN GOES DOWN,” he meditates on his urge to run away from who he is and his struggle with his identity. He raps, “I wanna run away / Don’t wanna lie, I don’t want a life” about his battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
However, other lines from the track include, “And I’m happy by the way / That I made that jump, that leap of faith,” suggesting that although it was difficult, Lil Nax X is happy he came out and can be his true self to the public. It is certainly inspiring that he is using his music to tell his story of his rise to fame as well as how he grappled with navigating both fame and personal identity.
Although meme culture has certainly joked about Lil Nas X (and he joins right in on the fun), he has certainly proved that he is more than a meme with songs such as “SUN GOES DOWN” along with others like “VIOD” and “AM I DREAMING” with Miley Cyrus. However, Montero is not all soft—it contains tracks such as “INDUSTRY BABY,” featuring Jack Harlow, and “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” that will definitely have listeners on their feet. These tracks are filled with strong beats and powerful lyrics about how Lil Nas X has become a force to be reckoned with in the music industry and how he is unashamed of talking about his sexuality.
In addition to the features mentioned above, the album is filled with reputable collaborators such as Elton John, Doja Cat, and Megan Thee Stallion. Notably, all of the artists on the album are members of the LBGTQ+ community. While he was certainly not what rap fans were expecting, Lil Nas X has paved the way for creating positive change in the industry—and what better way to do it than by having a chart-topping album?