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Lil Nas X: Montero review – a fearless cultural dial-shifter

·1-min read

Few new artists of late have enjoyed a narrative arc as eye-popping as that of Atlanta native Lil Nas X. His country-meets-hip-hop mashup Old Town Road (2019) had “novelty hit” written all over it, bar the unintended side effect of popularising chaps. Rather than fade back into obscurity, however, Montero Lamar Hill came out, then dropped a huge, autobiographical banger, Montero (Call Me By Your Name). The video, in which Lil Nas X twerked on Satan’s lap, brought the fight to the homophobic Christian right, confirming Hill as a fearless cultural dial-shifter.

Lil Nas X’s full-length debut maintains that Hill is an artist beyond genre, which is to say, Montero is a mixed bag, but sufficiently full of candour and assurance to stand up. A few straight-ahead bangers impress. Defiant and heartbroken, Dead Right Now features trap beats, horns and gospel “hallelujahs”, while Scoop boasts pizzicato synth strings, pilates references and a Doja Cat verse. Hill can carry a conventional pop song too, although these can lack lustre. For every guitar-driven bop such as That’s What I Want, there are times when Hill resorts to mainstream genre cliches rather than razing convention as he did on Old Town Road.

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