In his debut studio album “Montero,” Lil Nas X displays his brilliance while utilizing his handle on outrage marketing.
Imagine the first song you release sets new records on the top charts as the longest running number one song of all time. Not only does your reality completely change, making you an international superstar overnight, but now you have the eyes of the world on you wondering what you will do next. This is the reality for Atlanta native Montero Lamar Lil Nas X, better known as Lil Nas X.
Lil Nas X’s path has been one riddled with controversy. It started unintentionally, as most things do, with the country charts removing his song from their lineup claiming that“Old Town Road” was a hip hop song. The internet erupted with outrage and people were calling for apologies and claiming that country charts were racist. This was until country icon Billy Ray Cyrus stepped in on the remix of the acclaimed song and shot it back to the number one spot on the country and general charts respectively. It remained there for 17 weeks, blowing away the previous record holder, Bruno Mars with “Uptown Funk.”
However, in more recent outings, Lil Nas X has decided to lean into the backlash that has ensued. Lil Nas X described his actions as seemingly trolling on “The Breakfast Club’s” interview on September 16, 2021. The artist has leaned in and allowed himself to be the butt of jokes and criticism. Frankly, I think it’s brilliant. By making fun of himself and allowing people to see his humorous side, he’s won over a lot of people by pulling back the curtain. Although there are certain stunts that may have taken it a bit too far, (i.e. twerking on satan during the “Montero” music video, which sent the internet into a tailspin) Lil Nas X has made it clear that he’s just having fun. Nevertheless, we live in a culture dominated by outrage. Since some of his stunts have been seen as offensive to large groups of people, he has opened himself up to heavy criticism. Whether you agree with the mantra “there is no such thing as negative attention” or not, you cannot argue with the numbers his single “Montero” put up.
But enough about his persona, you’re not here to listen to me talk about his brilliance on social media or how he uses outrage culture to get his name out there; you’re here to see how I’m feeling about this album.
Safe to say, I love it. I think Lil Nas X delivered and I’ve been bumping this album for the past 5 days on repeat. For a debut album, he killed it. There were high expectations, but I truly believe he delivered. Personally, I enjoy his genre-bending beats ranging from alternative to pop and trap. This was the pop album we wanted and needed in 2021. Lil Nas remains authentic, speaking openly on his life and his struggles with self-love, his sexuality and his varying levels of success. This album feels deeply personal and although every song doesn’t hit home, there are definitely quite a few that delivered.
My personal favorites are “Industry Baby,” “Dead Right Now,” “That’s What I Want,” “Dolla Sign Slime,” “Tales of Dominica,” “Montero” and “Don’t Want It.” The topics of these songs range from depression, fear, success, broken relationships and living one’s personal truth. If nothing else can be said for Lil Nas X’s character, it’s clear that he is honest. He’s not here to put on a front for anyone or be something he’s not and I respect it. Love him or hate him, I believe this album solidified him as a name to know. He’s not going to be the one-hit wonder many of us thought he would be. He has a voice. He has a melody and he has a message.
I’m not here to judge his character one way or the other, but I do know musical talent when I hear it. According to Billboard, “Montero” drew 46.9 million U.S. streams and sold 21,000 downloads in its first week. Love him or hate him, take offense at his actions or not, the kid is here to stay and his outrage-marketing is only adding to his popularity. Regardless of what he does in his own life, there is no argument “Montero” is a quality debut record. I’m excited to see where he goes from here.