Notes of an Enterprise Infant

Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is a chart-topper rooted in vulnerability


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Album art for Lil Naz X’s “Montero”

Vae O’Neil, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Lil Nas X, formally known as Montero Lamar Hill, is an artist with a history of seemingly exponential success – in 2019 the widely adored and memed song “Old Town Road,” the first mashup of country and rap to be so widely popular at the time; from there, remixes of the song followed, along with various singles and an EP called “C7osure.” Hill’s most recent project is the biggest and most elaborate one he’s made so far: an album.

Eponymously named “Montero,” the album is a monumental creation, one teased by its creator months before its release, and one that has other artists and reviews citing how they’ve been soiling themselves over how great the music is. It features an astonishing number of collaborations with high-profile musicians, such as Miley Cyrus, Megan Thee Stallion and Elton John. “Montero” is meant to come from an extremely personal place; in an interview with Apple Music, Hill said that “This album exuberates confidence, creativity, just me completely stepping out of my comfort zone and saying whatever I want and giving my actual stories, giving my fans something to take from me.”

Different songs touch on different corners of his life; “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” is about him craving a hesitant and closeted lover, ‘Lost In The Citidel” is lamentation of the pain of being rejected and trying to pull himself back on his feet, and “Tales Of Dominica” is about the time before “Old Town Road” where Hill clung to his dreams of stardom to get through his time living in a broken home.

Musically speaking he’s all over the place (which is a good thing); most of the tracks are rap, yes, but every one of them has a voice unto themselves, such as “Industry Baby” featuring a supporting brass section in the introduction and chorus juxtaposed with the heavy acoustic focus of “Am I Dreaming”.

Aside from the music itself, what many people might not be aware of is the baby registry. A little bit of context: before the album’s release, Hill had a marketing campaign (of questionable taste) that featured photos of him with bulging belly, as if pregnant with his then-unreleased album; and, with the new album came a website where a link to the aforementioned “baby registry” can be found. The registry is a list of charities, one corresponding to each song found within “Montero,” of which anyone can click to donate to; all of the charities are a part of Gilead COMPASS Initiative, whose mission is to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the southern U.S. The registry’s existence says quite a bit about what matters to the creator of “Montero.”

That all said, “Montero” does a damn good job at being just some songs to listen to, charity and meanings aside; it offers stuff to jam to and offers others that one can cry to – both ends of the emotional gamut. It’s available literally everywhere you can think of; Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Store, Tidal, in between your couch cushions, etc.