Finally – the long-awaited and highly-teased debut album from Lil Nas X is here. Montero arrived on Friday, and along with it came a sexy (and heartbreaking) video for “That’s What I Want”.
In the video above, Lil Nas X falls in love with a sexy football player. They have some steamy shower sex before retreating to the outback for some one-on-one fun in their tent. Later, the rapper goes knocking on the man’s door only to find out that he’s already married to a woman. It’s such an act of betrayal and Lil Nas X is left burying his sorrows with alcohol. It’s heartbreaking to watch, but such a great song.
Montero marks the end of one journey for Lil Nas X, and the start of the next chapter of this remarkable career. The man born Montero Lamar Hill rode onto the pop culture landscape in 2018, when he first released “Old Town Road.” While leasing a beat he leased for $30, Nas X pieced together the lyrics that would make him a phenomenon. “I’m just following the melody of the beginning, and then the line just comes to me,” he told CBS News in 2019. “Yeah, ‘I’m gonna take my horse to Old Town Road.’ … I wanted to paint a picture of, like, a depressed kind of cowboy going to a better life,” he said. “I wanted it to be, like, a sad-leaning song in the beginning — but then just kinda turn into a banger, you know?”
The song began to gain traction thanks to the memes Nas X made to promote the song, a Red Dead Redemption compilation video, and a viral challenge on TikTok. The initial success of the song resulted in Nas X landing a record deal with Columbia. In March 2019, Justin Bieber tweeted that he loved the song. Shortly afterward, Billboard controversially removed “Old Town Road” from the Hot Country Songs Chart, under the idea that it “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version. This prompted a spike in streams as irate fans voiced support for Lil Nas X, prompting it to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 13, 2019. Billy Ray Cyrus joined on the first remix, and from there, the song made history. It spent a record-breaking nineteen consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 100. Numerous remixes followed – including ones featuring Diplo, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey, BTS, and more.
Lil Nas X then defied the “one hit wonder” status with 7, his debut EP that officially included “Old Town Road.” His second single, “Panini,” reached No. 5 on the Hot 100, and the release also confirmed his sexuality. Subsequent releases “Rodeo” and “Holiday” reached the Top 40, but it would be “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” that would prove Lil Nas X was no fluke – and no joke. Released with a video that saw Lil Nas X cast out of the Garden of Eden, only to pole dance down to Hell where he gave the Devil a lapdance (before ultimately killing him), “Montero” faced a huge backlash from mostly conservative and thinly-veiled homophobic critics.
These commentators took umbrage at a black gay man grinding on Satan in a music video. The controversy only seemed to make Lil Nas X stronger. Not only did he take it in stride (earning him the reputation of being unbeatable when it comes to trolling and clapping-back), “Montero” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, and has since gone double-platinum. The follow-up, “Sun Goes Down” (with its autobiographical video), peaked at No. 66, but the third single, “Industry Baby” (featuring Jack Harlow), hit No. 2.
At the start of September 2021, Lil Nas X revealed the tracklisting for Montero, as well as the album art. Boasting features from Megan Thee Stallion, Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, and Elton John, the album was poised to be a hit long before it was released. That didn’t stop Lil Nas X from still trolling his detractors. By donning a prosthetic baby bump and saying he was “pregnant” with the album, Nas X subverted gender attitudes while, seemingly, having the time of his life.
Since the success of “Old Town Road” and the coming-out that occurred with 7, Lil Nas X has been open and proud of his identity. He’s also been a welcomed presence on red carpets, bringing eye-catching fashion and dramatic moments to normally stuffed and sanitized industry events.
Now, with the release of Montero, the album’s namesake – who just turned 22 this year – is ready to start the next phase of his career. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to call Montero a victory lap, since it shows that Lil Nas X had a lot more in him than “Old Town Road,” but that would also assume that the race is over. If Lil Nas X has proved anything, it’s that he’s just getting started.