Lil Nas X’s strikingly personal, deeply affecting debut album Montero is here– and there’s a lot to unpack in its lyrics.
The critically-acclaimed album features previously-heard songs like “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby”, but it also includes numerous new tracks that give a fascinating glimpse into Lil Nas’s life.
Over the course of 15 songs, Lil Nas X sings and raps about mental health issues, family estrangement, addiction and his intense feelings of loneliness.
He also confronts the painful realities of his day-to-day life before he skyrocketed to fame in 2019, revealing that he came from a “broken home” and slept on a plastic mattress.
Below, we present a round-up of just some of the things we learned about Lil Nas X from the lyrcis of his debut album.
1. Lil Nas X has struggled with his mental health – and he contemplated suicide in his worst moments
Lil Nas X has been open in the past about some of the lowest moments in his life, which resulted in his mental health declining. He references those darker moments on several Montero tracks.
On “Dead Right Now”, Lil Nas brings listeners back to 2018 when he was living in his sister’s house when his “songs wasn’t doing numbers”. The candid track sees Lil Nas reflecting on how his whole life went under after he left school.
He raps: “If I didn’t blow up, I woulda died tryna be here / If it didn’t go, suicide, wouldn’t be here.”
The song “Void” brings listeners back to that same time. On the track, Lil Nas X sings about feeling small and wanting to run away from home. He even says he used to “weep through the night”.
“I’d rather die than to live with these feelings,” he sings.
2. His mother is a ‘deceiver’
Lil Nas X has spoken about his turbulent relationship with his mother, who is an addict. Today, he appears to be mostly – if not entirely – estranged from her.
That relationship is dissected on “Dead Right Now”, which sees Lil Nas calling out all the people who suddenly care about him now that he’s found success and wealth.
His mother is just one of the people Lil Nas X references in the lyrics of the song. In one verse, he brands her a “deceiver” and suggests that she’s lying when she says she loves her son.
“When she get drunk, she hit me up, mad with a fever like whoa,” he raps.
3. Lil Nas X is no stranger to heartbreak
Everyone has had their fair share of heartbreak – and Lil Nas X is no exception. The rapper references a failed relationship on “Lost in the Citadel” and “Life After Salem”.
“Life After Salem” is one of the most revealing and personal songs on Montero. In its lyrics, he urges a past lover to “just take what you want from me”.
In one verse, he sings: “Get yourself an Adderall / Then throw me up against the wall / And kick me when I have to crawl / Oooh, I love it when you show no love at all.”
In August, Lil Nas X revealed that he has a new boyfriend. His identity remains a secret, but Lil Nas seems happy – and that’s all that counts.
4. He has faced loneliness and longs to be loved for who he really is
Lil Nas X references his pressing feelings of loneliness on more than one track on Montero, but the theme is perhaps best explored on “That’s What I Want”.
The track, which was released alongside a stunning music video on Friday (17 September), sees Lil Nas singing about how he desperately craves love and affection.
“These days I’m way too lonely / I’m missing out, I know / These days I’m way too alone / And I’m known for giving love away,” he sings.
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5. Lil Nas X struggled with feelings of self-doubt before he got his big break
Lil Nas X touches on his struggle with self-doubt on the marvellous track “Tales of Dominica”. Like “Dead Right Now”, the song lyrics brings fans back to a time before “Old Town Road” conquered the charts.
The heartbreaking track sees Lil Nas X reflect on coming from a “broken home” where his “plastic bed don’t blow up no more”.
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Naturally, Lil Nas struggled to believe in his ability to build a music career at that time. He sings about being at his lowest ebb, adding: “Hope my little bit of hope don’t fade away / I’ve been living on an island made from faith.”
Later in the track, Lil Nas worries that his detractors were right about him all along,.
6. He used to pray God would take away his gay thoughts
Lil Nas X also confronts the painful realities of growing up gay in a religious background on “Sun Goes Down”. The track – which was previously released as a single – sees him sing about his efforts to pray the gay away.
“These gay thoughts would always haunt me / I prayed God would take it from me,” Lil Nas X sings on the heartbreaking song. Elsewhere on the track, he reflects on his crushing feelings of insecurity as a teenager, revealing that getting involved in online stan culture gave him a sorely needed outlet for his feelings.
This isn’t the first time Lil Nas X opened up about his efforts to pray away the gay. In 2019, he told Gayle King on CBS’ This Morning that he desperately prayed to God in the hope that his sexuality was just a phase.
“I was just like, praying, praying, praying that it was a phase, that it would go away,” he said.
Thankfully for Lil Nas X – and for the rest of the world – he went on to embrace his sexuality and put his queerness front and centre in his music career.
And he’s all the better for it.