MONTERO Beautifully Insecure, Human


MONTERO marks the official “album” debut of pop star Lil Nas X.

By J Van Beest 

What does it sound like deep inside the mind of an artist, past the insecurities of his personal life? 

What does it sound like to be beautifully human? 

The answer is MONTERO by pop artist Lil Nas X. 

All fifteen songs are unique from each other. It’s clear that Nas X took his time with each one. 

There is romance, dependency and most of all, the impact of fame on the artist’s mental health. 

The theme of romance is clear in singles “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” and “THAT’S WHAT I WANT,” which act as foils to each other.  “MONTERO” recalls a past flame driven by lust and superficiality, where “THAT’S WHAT I WANT” expresses Nas X’s longing for a normal, healthy relationship that will last through thick and thin.  

We’re a long way from the “Old Town Road,” the path Lil Nas X travelled to reach the status of pop star making commercials with Elton John. This Lil Nas X brings a new, fresh rendition of common pop themes. 

“LOST IN THE CITADEL” doesn’t feel like a “you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all.” Instead, the song rips the listener from the daydream-y state of the two aforementioned songs, showing the nitty gritty parts of a relationship that most love songs gloss over like Chap-Stick. Nas X reflects on his one-sided relationship, how dependent he became on him, and how badly he’s hurting now that he isn’t in his life anymore.  Despite his wants for a special someone in his life, he has to take care of himself alone, and learn to function independently.  

“LIFE AFTER SALEM” shows a person who’s finally able to let go, a person who doesn’t love another anymore, and a person who is able to continue without him.

The biggest theme of MONTERO is Nas X’s struggle with his fame, which he writes about in multiple songs, each song exploring a different aspect of the struggle.  “DEAD RIGHT NOW” reveals the hypocrisy of the people in his life who doubted him in the beginning and ignored him, but now act like they’ve always been his biggest advocate and want to be a part of his life.  “INDUSTRY BABY” and “DOLLA SIGN SLIME”  triumphantly explore the artist’s pride in his work, and disdain for the people who hate his success.  

MONTERO also tackles Nas X’s personal struggles and mental health issues before and after he became famous.  “TALES OF DOMINICA” tells of the broken home Nas X grew up in, how hopeless he felt, and the vulnerability of moving out and living on his own before he became the sensation that he is, hardly holding onto what little faith he had left.  “SUN GOES DOWN” shows Nas X’s  older and wiser point of view, speaking to his younger self and telling him that life is worth living, no matter how badly he is hurting in the moment.  Despite the song’s hopeful tone, recovery is not consistent, and even the happiest people can still fall back into a dark state.

MONTERO ends with “AM I DREAMING,” where Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus both express their fears of being forgotten, and their legacy going with them when they die.  Both artists have made a huge impact on pop culture and the world, but fear it was superficial, and soon their mark will fade and become insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  

Overall, MONTERO is a masterpiece from an insecure human who deserves an abundance of attention and speaks directly to the heart of everyone who listens.