Written Before Listen
Lil Nas X is one of the biggest names in modern-day music. From the long-running hit “Old Town Road” to the recent buzz with “MONTERO” and “Industry Baby”, this guy makes a buzz with all ages for 3 years now. His music in my opinion? I’m not big on the Old Town Road era but his recent singles have been really good. “Industry Baby” in particular. With that being said, we now have the long-awaited debut from Montero himself and let’s see how it is.
Lil Nas X is not one to obey hip-hop norms in production. I wouldn’t consider him an experimental beat selector or anything though. What makes him unique is the fact that Take a Daytrip use a lot of their sounds from scratch and they don’t sound artificial whatsoever. That also means that their drum patterns are from the usual trap patterns and sounds as well. They substitute 808s for sub-like synth basses. They substitute VSTs for actual instruments and they do a lot of genre-bending as well.
Speaking of genre-bending, Lil Nas X does a lot of it. Right off of the bat, we have a flamenco-style track with “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” with its classical guitars and bouncy drum pattern. “Industry Baby” and “Dolla Sign Slime” both have these horn lines that sound straight out of a college football game which I also love. Luckily, that’s just the beginning because there are tracks that take away any rap aspect of it. The first instance Is “That’s What I Want” which is an R&B cut with some rock influence added to it. There’s also “One Of Me” with the legend himself Elton John but the album doesn’t go out of its way until the second half. We first get “Lost In The Citadel” which is an alternative pop rock song with a strong punk influence as well. A couple of tracks later, we then get the streak of “Tales Of Dominica”, “Sun Goes Down” and “Void” where Lil Nas X goes full-on indie pop. We also end with two left turns in a row as well. We get “Life After Salem” which is another alternative rock cut with more psychedelic and gothic undertones to it. We also get the Miley-assisted outro “Am I Dreaming” where Nas and Miley do some sort of folk duet. Overall, Lil Nas X comes out to be one eclectic dude. Am I there for the ride? I certainly am but I don’t enjoy all of it. There are points (especially that 3 track indie-pop run) where I don’t see him pulling it off. I like the outro, I like the two singles and their genre-bending but that’s about it. I think Lil Nas X still has a long way to go on his genre-bending game.
At the time of this review, Lil Nas X is the 9th biggest artist in the world according to Spotify. To be quite factual, Lil Nas X is the 4th biggest rapper out right now behind Drake, Doja Cat, and The Kid Laroi…and he’s making better music than all of them. The date I’m writing this review also happens to be the day after they updated the Top Artists chart. Lil Nas X is in the middle of the chart for my ranking. There are artists like Kanye West and Billie Eilish who are pushing popular music in a whole new direction. There are people like Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran who are popular but only because they try so hard to be popular. Lil Nas X is making music that he knows will be popular but does it in his way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Nas’ style can be a little too safe at points, but I’m glad he’s making music that is different from most people’s.
There’s not a lot of features on this album, but the ones that show up are quite diverse. We first have “Industry Baby” featuring Jack Harlow which gets a nice feature from him. We then have “Scoop” featuring Doja Cat as she comes with her usual over-the-top self. Right after that, we have “One Of Me” where rock legend Elton John comes in as a guest pianist for the track and I Hate to admit that I wasn’t big on it. I wish I was for real though. I thought these two being together would be something greater than it was but it wasn’t. We have “Dolla Sign Slime” featuring Megan Thee Stallion who also comes in with her usual self and like usual, it’s great. We lastly have that Miley Cyrus feature at the tail end and that is necessary not only because it shows Miley’s versatility, but it also shows the appreciation that Lil Nas X has with Miley’s father Billy Ray. If you don’t remember, Billy Ray Cyrus appeared on the biggest song of all time, “Old Town Road” for a remix. Despite Lil Nas X avoiding that country trope nowadays, he still shows a lot of appreciation for the Cyrus family. Overall, a lot of the features are pretty strong. I’m glad to say that this album is overloaded with features and I’m also glad to say that the features Nas chose were good choices.
I will say that the majority of my review has been positive thus far, but I do have some gripes. First off, it starts strong but ends weakly. There was a streak of around 5 or so songs that were rather bad or mid. I also think the accessibility factor could be a little too much but Lil Nas without a doubt is still making great pop music.
Yeah. I would say this album leans a little more toward the positive side, but I wouldn’t consider it all likable. There weren’t tracks I loved on this, but there was a fair amount that I liked. The same goes with me disliking songs. There weren’t songs that were awful but there were some that I didn’t like that much. Overall, a solid album.