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Lil Nas X's Montero album art is full of Easter eggs for fans

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Ahead of the release of Lil Nas X's highly anticipated first-ever studio album, Montero, the quickly ascending rapper and singer shared the prismatic cover art, and it's so full of Easter eggs you'd think it were a Taylor Swift release.

There are many references and hidden gems in this heavenly imagery. It's clear Lil Nas X has been intricately weaving together his album for some time. This week also brought word of the full tracklist for Montero, which includes collaborations with Elton John (on the song "One of Me"), Megan Thee Stallion (on "Dolla Sign Slime"), Miley Cyrus (on "Am I Dreaming"), and Doja Cat (on "Scoop").

The cover art sees Lil Nas X floating in mid air as the sunlight beams over a distant mountain and glistens over his naked body. The glow mingles with the water to form a rainbow halo around his form.

Lil Nas X/Twitter Lil Nas X's 'Montero' album cover

Take it all in. Now, let's dig in.

Genesis II

Lil Nas X confirmed on Twitter shortly after the artwork dropped that the imagery was inspired by artist John Stephens' Genesis II. He also included a Bible verse from the Book of Genesis: "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."

He noted further how "the album art is a continuous loop, to represent the circle of life."

Biblical imagery has been a common motif throughout the singles and music videos released for Montero. The art for "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," the album's title track, mirrored Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. "Sun Goes Down" and "Industry Baby" also featured Lil Nas X cushioned with clouds. It's as if the rapper, who's embraced and celebrated his sexuality through his music, is repurposing Christian imagery to create something uniquely queer.

To show how everything's connected in the Montero cinematic universe, the video for "Sun Goes Down" features a moment where Lil Nas X is kneeling by his bed in prayer. Among the photos on his wall is a sketch of the "Montero" artwork.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Sun Goes Down' video

SpongeBob Squarepants

Another "inspiration" Lil Nas X mentioned to his followers on social media was, believe it or not, SpongeBob SquarePants. He shared an image of the cartoon queer icon (Nickelodeon released an image of SpongeBob alongside some of the network's other LGBTQ characters to celebrate Pride 2020) getting raptured in a rainbow beam.

He could very well be joking, but we also know that he's a major SpongeBob fan. Lil Nas X regularly shares memes from the show in response to his followers on Twitter.

The floating man

The center of the album cover — Lil Nas X gracefully floating in the air — is a sight fans know well.

Here Lil Nas X is in the "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" video pulling a SpongeBob and floating up to the heavens.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' video

Here is Lil Nas X in the "Industry Baby" video. What's on the back of the pink prison uniforms? A silhouette of his floating body.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Industry Baby' video

And here is a snapshot from his Montero album announcement video. After busting out of Montero jail in "Industry Baby," Lil Nas X is seen driving away in his prison garb when he pulls up to a phone booth that projects a hologram of a floating man.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X's 'Montero' album announcement video

Butterflies

Butterflies swarm the landscape of Lil Nas X's Montero paradise, but they've appeared previously in his work in subtle ways, symbolizing a major transformation for the performer.

He sported multiple butterfly tattoos for the "Industry Baby" video on his neck and torso.

Lil Nas X/YouTube

More recently, Lil Nas X released a teaser video showing multiple Lil Nas Xs in rainbow cocoons. He encouraged them to break free. "Montero, wake up. Wake up, Montero. It's time," he whispers in the teaser.

Greece

Now, for a few smaller Easter eggs that point to previous Lil Nas X videos.

First, the columns and Greek-inspired busts of the rapper are callouts to "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" wherein Lil Nas X is taken before a gladiatorial arena for judgement.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' video

The Montero moon

Peaking out from behind the Greek temple columns is a purple orb reminiscent of the moon on planet Montero, also from the "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)" video.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name' video

Water

Off to the side, we see globs of water taking on lives of their own as they bob up from the central stream. The opening of "Sun Goes Down" features similar imagery. Lil Nas X, sitting in a meditative pose, manipulates the water beneath him.

Lil Nas X/YouTube Lil Nas X in the 'Sun Goes Down' video

Montero is dropping this Sep. 17, and we're likely to be dazzled by even more Easter eggs that take us deeper into this Montero utopia.

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