Lil Nas X released his highly anticipated debut album, “Montero,” on Friday.
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The 22-year-old rocketed to fame in 2019 when his first single, “Old Town Road,” smashed chart records and his subsequent EP, “7,” was nominated for album of the year at the Grammy Awards.
“Montero,” named for the rapper’s real name, was preceded by two top-10 hits and a thrilling yet controversial rollout, which involved giving Satan a lap dance and masterminding a mass breakout from a fake gay prison.
Insider’s music team (reporter Callie Ahlgrim and celebrity and music editor Courteney Larocca) listened to the new album on our own, jotting down our initial thoughts track by track.
Here is what we thought of each song on “Montero” upon first listen. (Skip to the end to see the only songs worth listening to and the album’s final score.)
Ahlgrim: This song is such a hit. Every time I listen to it, my serotonin levels skyrocket — especially when the second verse glides in with those delirious lyrics (“I wanna sell what you’re buying / I wanna feel on your ass in Hawaii”).
And on that note, I know the point of this song isn’t poetic genius, but “I wanna fuck the ones I envy” is genuinely one of the most punchy, evocative lyrics I’ve heard this year.
Larocca: Artists don’t often put their lead single as their album’s opening track, but it’s arguably a great spot for it. If you’re willing to introduce the era with the track, why not introduce the album the same way? But if we know anything about Lil Nas X from his album promo, it’s that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Everything that went into this single’s rollout was wildly entertaining, and the song is too. It still slaps. Every. Time.
Ahlgrim: I am surprised and thrilled that Lil Nas has added another song to the crying-on-the-dance-floor canon. As opposed to the sunlit revelry of the title track, “Dead Right Now” is a dusky sort of banger, thick with nostalgia and bittersweet triumph.
Paired with an almost harsh beat, the lyrics expose an underbelly of Lil Nas’ confident gloss. He’s clearly proud of his accomplishments, but when a choir arrives to worship his one-in-a-million success (“Hallelujah! How’d you do it?”), it feels almost sinister — particularly in light of confessions like “I would’ve died trying to be here” and “My momma told me that she loves me, don’t believe her.”
The cost of fame, especially the many-hued leeches you may find attached, is a well-worn trope in pop music. Lil Nas is far from the first star to call out exes who come crawling back, or deadbeat relatives who suddenly ask for favors. But it’s certainly a first for him. I mean, this is the king of camp and internet memes, building a song around the line, “I’ll treat you like you’re dead.”
By wielding uncharacteristic venom and vulnerability, Lil Nas makes a familiar concept feel fresh — and proves, once again, that he’s no one-trick pony.