The new Lil Nas X album is a surefire contender for hip-hop album of the year.
The 22-year-old rap star released his debut album, “MONTERO” earlier this month, and whether you were already a fan of his, or are entirely new to his music, there is probably something for you on the record. He seamlessly goes from pop to R&B to modern trap, and it works perfectly, wrapping up an abundance of themes in the 41-minute run-time.
In the first single, and lead-off track, Nas raps about his experience as a black queer artist, setting thematic tones for the rest of the album over a beautiful Spanish sounding instrumental. Between this track and the fifth track of the album, “SCOOP,” Nas leans more into trap-sounding songs such as “INDUSTRY BABY,” a great song featuring Jack Harlow with rich brass instruments for a beat.
The interlude “THE ART OF REALIZATION”, may have slightly missed the theme change, but the impact of the tone shift still stays the same. We get a glimpse of this in “ONE OF ME,” a song that discusses the hate Nas gets over a beautiful piano performance from Elton John. This more personal theme continues throughout the rest of the album, with Nas discussing similar themes of hate.
Personal highs for me are the mellow tracks such as “TALES OF DOMINICA” and “VOID,” which both discuss Nas’ struggles with rising to fame so quickly, as well as the underlying tone of him discovering his sexuality, a theme that he often comes back to. While, as an LGBTQIA youth myself, this may be biased, I think the perspective he gives is much needed social commentary.
The last thing worth mentioning is all of the great features Nas got on this album. While I’ve discussed Jack Harlow and Elton John’s features already, Nas also got three powerful women to deliver verses on the album. On the trap half of the album, Nas features two very prominent female artists, Doja Cat (SCOOP), and Meghan Thee Stallion (DOLLA SIGN SLIME). The chemistry in these tracks is very apparent and it does not affect the themes in any negative way. A surprise feature for me was Miley Cyrus on the final track, “AM I DREAMING.” While I am don’t usually like features on closing songs, this one worked, and Miley’s distinct style honestly made the song better.
Overall, as a Lil Nas X fan, I absolutely loved getting a deeper and more personal look into him as an artist, and I think even non-fans can find something to enjoy in here, whether it’d be the excellent features, different types of music, or beautifully produced instrumentals.
I give Lil Nas X’s debut album, “MONTERO” a score of 4.5/5
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