Lil Nas X’s ‘MONTERO’ reveals artist’s personal journey, illuminating prevalence of identity in the modern world

In MONTERO, Lil Nas X reveals his personal struggles with identity that had long travelled under the public radar, while also championing the hard work and perseverance that led to his success and stardom in the music industry.

Graphic by Maya Hruskar ’23

In ‘MONTERO,’ Lil Nas X reveals his personal struggles with identity that had long travelled under the public radar, while also championing the hard work and perseverance that led to his success and stardom in the music industry.

Allison Gillman ’23, Assistant Business Manager

It cannot be denied that Lil Nas X, a successful, bold and bedazzled newcomer in America’s music industry who has repeatedly left conservative pundits clutching their pearls with his expressive work, gives us a brilliant combination of emotion, heartbreak, hype and euphoria in his newest album, “MONTERO.” Not only does the singer-songwriter illuminate his personal struggles with identity as a queer man of color, but he champions his success and fame that has met onslaught after onslaught of conservative rage–in 41 minutes of grace and flamboyance. 

“MONTERO” lines up Lil Nas’ experiences with strife and difficulty in his personal life. The artist introspectively acknowledges the voices of both his external critics and demons in his own head. Notably, in the album’s opening track, “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” Lil Nas embraces queerness as a proud aspect of his identity. The song’s music video characterizes the devil as an obstacle which, if Lil Nas is able to conquer, will enable him to live a more liberated life after years of internalizing and tolerating anti-gay bias. 

Subsequent tracks such as “TALES OF DOMINICA” address Lil Nas’ suicidal thoughts and crippling self-doubt as a result of unsupportive family members. Important lines where Lil Nas admits, “I’ve been living in my lowest, it’s safe to say/hope my little bit of hope don’t fade away,” reveals that under the glamour of the highlight reels, he was fighting battles in a world that neither fans nor haters could see.

Not only does Lil Nas offer audiences a peek into his personal struggles, but his lyrics reach out to those who can truly empathize with them.”

— Allison Gillman '23

Not only does Lil Nas offer audiences a peek into his personal struggles, but his lyrics reach out to those who can truly empathize with them. Especially in “DEAD RIGHT NOW,” Lil Nas raps about how his mother “told me that she love me, don’t believe her/when she get drunk, she hit me up, man, with a fever.” While adversity is specific to each individual, Lil Nas establishes a more personal connection with fans who understand the ballpark he found himself in, as if to say, “you are not alone.”

As if the raw emotion this album delivers didn’t hit hard enough, Lil Nas is joined by some of the biggest names in current popular music to showcase his success in the industry. With confident, upbeat rhythms and liberal use of sexual innuendos, Lil Nas conveys how he reaps the benefits of perseverance in the face of flagrant public opposition and hate.

Lil Nas’ luxurious lifestyle, which he showcases unabashedly on social media, is only achievable through the daily grind he puts in to earn his way. Alongside equally bubbly and eclectic Doja Cat, the artists serve fans the inside scoop on the hard work that goes on behind the curtains. Three songs later, Lil Nas teams up with Megan Thee Stallion in “DOLLA SIGN SLIME” to revel in his accomplishments and dispel haters and oppositionists. 

While it is easy to dismiss the more playful tracks in “MONTERO” as lazy or unremarkable, they add a nuance to the story of loneliness, struggle, perseverance and success that Lil Nas teases out. The raw emotion rolling through the album–from confusion, devastation and anger to confidence and a sense of freedom–gives life to a human story that serves as inspiration and a beacon of encouragement for people who saw or currently see themselves in Lil Nas’ shoes. 

I award “MONTERO” a 4.5 out of 5 stars for its profound depiction of a story that humanizes, reflects and introspects. Lil Nas’ story is important not because it is unique, but because it isn’t. His lyrics encapsulate the effects of entrenched bigotry, racism and homophobia in America, and for those with shared experiences with any form of hate, the album extends a hand of empathy and love. Lil Nas X exceeded expectations with “MONTERO,” and it’s about time he earned the right to talk his shit.