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by Lil Nas X

Released September 17, 2021 via Columbia Records

Reviewed September 28, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
INDUSTRY BABY (81%), MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) (61%),

If nothing else, MONTERO will go down as one of the most important albums ever to be released. While Lil Nas X isn’t the first Black queer man to release music, he is the first of this magnitude. MONTERO is one of the most anticipated albums to come out this year, as it was going to serve as proof that the Atlanta-born artist could make a cohesive body of work. To say it met expectations would be an understatement. MONTERO is an album of two tales: the first half serves as a victory lap for Lil Nas X, a gay rapper. On songs like “Industry Baby” and “What I Want,” he brags about his successes and being able to live his life out loud. The second half of this project tackles the life of Montero and what it was like growing up the son of an addict, having an absent father, and the anxiety-inducing amount of pressure that has plagued him since the success of his 2019 breakout hit “Old Town Road.” Sonically, Lil Nas X proves that he’s still a chameleon, navigating his way through 80s rock, emo, and even a piano-based pop song featuring the icon, Elton John. It is also filled with TikTok-ready hits like “Scoop,” featuring Doja Cat, and “Dolla Sign Slime” with Megan Thee Stallion. While not the most impressive album to be constructed, it does show the potential of Lil Nas X to remain a pop mainstay for years to come. – Pablo (7.8/10)

After “Old Town Road” dwindled down and Lil Nas X wrote his name in the record books with the highest selling song ever, everyone wondered what was next for him. He’s funny and all, but can he maintain relevance? 7 was a good stepping stone, but can he build a career off it? MONTERO is a definite improvement, and sure to quell any one-hit-wonder discussion. Lil Nas X isn’t exactly Bob Dylan when it comes to lyrics, but there is something to be admired with how personal these lyrics are, especially for as big of a pop star as he is. His life, warts and all, is fully on display. In addition to that, identity is a big theme of this album. Being his first album as a fully out gay man, Lil Nas X fully embraces his queerness through his verses, collabs, and more. Overall, MONTERO isn’t a groundbreaking record, but it proves that he is a great artist with a defined sound and he has the potential to be one of the biggest pop-rappers ever. – Alan (7.7/10)

After having crash-landed like a meteorite in the “A-list” world of celebrity musicians, Lil Nas X has allowed some of the dust to settle before confidently delivering his debut album, MONTERO. The unprecedented explosion of Lil Nas’ 2019 smash-hit single, “Old Town Road,” was a dominant and inescapable force in pop culture for some time. With such an overwhelmingly successful single forged by a previously unknown artist, few musicians in history have had bigger shoes to fill to avoid being labeled a one-hit wonder. While his follow-up 7 EP did land additional hit records, MONTERO has completely washed the taste of “Old Town Road” out of everyone’s mouths. In dawning a new era for himself, Lil Nas X shares his apparent passion for pop-centric songwriting, ranging from hip-hop to alternative aesthetics, and it suits him well. Additionally, MONTERO’s production and guest features all serve to complement the direction that Lil Nas X is headed for. Missteps are kept to a minimum, making MONTERO one of the better radio pop records to drop in 2021. – DeVán (7.5/10)

Lil Nas X’s 7 EP felt more like a quick cash-grab from Columbia than a holistic piece of art. But on MONTERO, Nas hangs his Stetson and begins to explore his identity and newfound fame, with a lot more soul this time. While most guest performances are distracting or redundant––discounting Jack Harlow and Megan Thee Stallion’s performances respectively––there’s hardly a moment that goes by on MONTERO worth scrutiny. It’s harmless commercial pop, with certain tracks dipping their toes into other genres, like “LIFE AFTER SALEM”, which takes the guitars on MONTERO’s final leg to the next level. Sugary production and blissful hooks litter the album, from the grand horn-laden opening on “INDUSTRY BABY” to the pop-trap warbling beat backing “DON’T WANT IT.” It’s well structured, placing the eponymous flamenco-esque hit as a preface rather than the album’s main event, keeping interludes to a minimum, and sequencing loose acts that give the album some shape. Lil Nas X is still finding his footing, but his charm and addictive melodies make MONTERO a solid debut album. – Cam (7/10)

Daniel: 9.3/10 | Victoria: 9/10 | Pablo: 7.8/10 | Alan: 7.6/10 | DeVán: 7.5/10

Dominick: 7.5/10 | Cam: 7/10 | Hadley: 7/10 | Peter: 6/10 | Jared: 5/10


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