Lil Nas X Wrote Almost 100 Songs For His Album ‘Montero’

Lil Nas X has only been a figure in mainstream music for two years. But in that period of time, he’s earned Grammy Awards and set new records in the music industry thanks to his breakout single “Old Town Road.” In September 2021, he released his highly-anticipated debut album Montero.

US rapper Lil Nas X arrives for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020,
Lil Nas X | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Lil Nas X’s ‘Montero’ album was deeply personal

Following the success of “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X spent much of 2020 like everyone else: in lockdown with nothing much else to focus on but himself. During that period he was inspired to record music that was more personal than anything he had ever done before.

He released the lead single from Montero, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in early 2021. He sparked controversy from the get-go by seemingly embracing what he had been told about his sexuality for years: that he was a sinful person going to Hell. He infuriated even more people with performances of the song that included poledancing and an onstage kiss with one of his dancers.

The album’s second single, “Sun Goes Down,” was an honest reflection on his suicidal thoughts from before he was famous. With the song “That’s What I Want” and its accompanying video, Lil Nas sang openly about wanting someone by his side for more than just sex.

Lil Nas X poses backstage at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards
Lil Nas X | Amy Sussman/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp

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Lil Nas X wrote nearly 100 songs for ‘Montero’

Recording Montero was a cathartic process for Lil Nas X. In an interview with Apple Music, he said there were several dozen tracks that ended up not making the final cut.

“I was really just making music,” he said of the process. “A lot of things would start with just melody runs; just doing a bunch of different melodies over an instrumental or a loop that I’m in love with, or [that] I like and I’m like, ‘OK, where can we take this?'”

“From there, with just the melodies, I was like, ‘I already know what this song is about. Let me fill in these [blanks] with words,'” he continued. “And it just worked almost every time.”

“We chopped [the tracklist] down more and more and more until I got the ones that I felt were the most important for the album,” he concluded. When Lowe asked him how many tracks he had considered for the album, he estimated “almost 100.”

Lil Nas X attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City.
Lil Nas X attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021, in New York City. | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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‘Montero’ has hit songs

“Old Town Road” changed music — and Lil Nas X’s life — after it was released in 2019. The collab with Billy Ray Cyrus ended up setting a new record for most weeks spent at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 19 weeks total. It also became the first song in history to earn 15-times platinum certification, with over 15 million copies sold.

Lil Nas was worried that he wouldn’t be able to match that success with Montero. But “Call Me By Your Name” ended up being his second number-one hit, and the single “Industry Baby” reached number two on the chart.