Monday, June 27

Lil Nas X: Montero review – pop-rap at its finest, biggest and best | Lil Nas X

LIl Nas X’s debut album, Montero, comes accompanied not by one, but by two major advertising links. In the first commercial, he teases Taco Bell’s Toasted Breakfast Burritos in a pink pompadour wig. Then there’s a series of Uber Eats ads, in which his comedic role is Elton John, one of Montero’s guest stars, albeit low-key, who contributes the piano.

They’re the kind of big-money gigs you only get if you’re in the upper echelons of pop, which Lil Nas X undoubtedly is. Since buying a beat online for $ 30 and turning it into Old Town Road, which became the longest-running number one single in US history, it has sold 18.5 million copies and sparked debate. on the limits of genres and the attitude of country music towards races. year-old has had a consistent presence at the top of the charts: five more platinum singles and so many awards and nominations that they require their own Wikipedia page.

He has become such a familiar presence that it is easy to forget how extraordinary he is. It’s not just that one of the world’s greatest rappers is an outspoken gay man (an enlightened attitude toward homosexuality has never been high on the list of hip-hop virtues), it’s a gay man who puts your sexuality front and center. its music. His latest single, Industry Baby, came with a video set in a prison in which Lil Nas X leads a company of naked men in a shower dance routine. His lyrics add being gay to the list of things rappers brag about amid the usual stuff about racks and plaques and suggestions that rivals should bring their soldiers: “I’m a pop black like Bieber,” he struts. , “No fucking bitches, I’m a fag.” If you need confirmation of the climate in which he’s saying things like that, Industry Baby was produced by Kanye West, whose current album features an overtly homophobic collaboration with DaBaby.

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A cynic would say that Lil Nas X has profited from the ongoing culture war; that liberal voices would feel compelled to praise his work to the heavens. What Montero shows is that it requires absolutely no special pleading. He hits an impressively eclectic sweet spot between hip-hop and pop, confidently jumping from trap beats and martial horns to distorted and grating hard rock; from music reminiscent of the R&B of the early 2000s to ballads in stadiums. The genre jump is unified by melodies. Song for song, Montero has more hooks – and catchier – than any other great rap album released so far in 2021: the indelible chorus of That’s What I Want, the luminous melody at odds with the heartbroken lyrics of Tales of Dominica; Dead Right Now, which is rich and delicious enough for listeners to check the credits to see what ’70s soul track it shows, only to find out it’s original.

It seems fitting that the aforementioned Taco Bell ad shows him performing That’s What I Want accompanied by a band made up of multiple versions of himself in a nod to the Hey Ya! Video. From Outkast! – not just because the upbeat beat and acoustic guitar riff of That’s What I Want is audibly influenced by it, but because Lil Nas X himself recalls the André 3000 from Outkast, both in his daring approach to wardrobe issues and in his aversion to being artistically enclosed. stick to what you are good at ”, he advises a rival, withering,“ I suggest you do another one like that ”. Frankly, it would be a fantastic album whether or not it contained Lil Nas X saying “I’m not talking about guns when I ask where your penis is” on Scoop, or it opened with a song rebuking a publicly straight man with whom he had been fucking in the quiet.

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Cover art for Montero.
Cover art for Montero. Photography: Advertising Image

There is a real confidence in his variety, presumably reinforced both by his success to date and the fact that he can sing as well as he can rap, and also confidence in his structure. It’s loaded with strutting and bragging tracks, before the emotional temperature suddenly plummets. Outside the singing and guest appearances by Nicki Minaj, come darker, more soulful songs. It’s about depression, loneliness: Void seems to be directed at Lil Nas X’s stylist Hodo Musa, and seems to suggest that his is the closest relationship in his life, and his bleak adolescence, marked by abuse from parents and girls. you struggle with your sexuality, and lively. just for her life online, “Nicki stanning tomorrow until dawn”.

You hope the album will replenish itself and end on an upbeat note, but it doesn’t. Instead, the closest thing is Am I Dreaming ?, a troublesome ballad with a deranged-sounding Miley Cyrus. “Never forget about me and everything I’ve done,” he sings, as if expecting his current wave of hits to be fleeting. According to Montero’s evidence, an album from which almost any track can be drawn and rewarded with a hit, you don’t have to worry about. Advertisers are likely making their way to your door for a long time yet.

What Alexis heard this week

Sad Night Dynamite – Psychedelic Views
The brooding and surly British rap, the accompaniment of which is based on a sampling of the Handsome family’s Far from Any Road, also known as the theme song for True Detective.

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