"This is my baby," Lil Nas X says of his forthcoming debut album Montero, which is set for release on Sept. 17

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Lil Nas X is expecting — his debut album Montero, that is.

In celebration of the impending delivery of his "baby" on Sept. 17, the musician, 22, did an over-the-top pregnancy shoot, complete with a bump and flower crown.

Lil Nas X (né Montero Lamar Hill) tells PEOPLE exclusively that he came up with the idea to do the shoot after listening to Megan Thee Stallion's verse on his new song "Dolla Sign Slime" for the first time.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, this is amazing,' so I immediately called my stylist," he says. "She was like, 'Wow, this all comes together. Your album. Your baby.' I was like, 'Yeah, this is my baby, huh?' As a joke, she was like, 'Yeah, you should do a pregnancy shoot.'"

For more on Lil Nas X's pregnancy photoshoot promoting his album Montero and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

"I was like, 'You know what? That's actually brilliant,'" he continues. "So now we have this entire thing coming out, and it's going to be amazing."

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
| Credit: Adrian Per

The timing of the photos coming out now also couldn't have been better, as Lil Nas X just posted a spoof to Instagram on Monday of Drake's Certified Lover Boy cover art featuring several pregnant women emojis with the difference being that his features pregnant men.

"I was like, 'There's no way the universe is lining up this perfect for this to happen," he says with a laugh.

Asked whether the album is an immaculate conception of sorts, Lil Nas X responds, "I guess I am the father as well as the mother."

"But I guess the producers who worked on it are like the dads too," he says, before giving it another thought: "Or maybe uncles."

Montero was largely created over the past year in lockdown. The creation of this new music, Lil Nas X said on Twitter last week, was "therapeutic."

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
| Credit: Adrian Per

"I've changed in so many ways," he says now. "I've changed the way that I handle a lot of situations, the way I manage my sadness and anger and just understanding that I don't have to react to emotions in certain ways. I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose how to react. I've learned to let people's comments roll off my back."

RELATED VIDEO: Lil Nas X's Debut Album Montero Features Big Stars — Including Elton John & Megan Thee Stallion

Lil Nas X says he also learned through the creation of this album "to have full faith in myself."

"The only person that really has to believe in me is myself," he says. "It's been a lot of self-affirmations this year that I probably would not have been able to do two years ago."

From the personal "Sun Goes Down" to the catchy "Industry Baby," the songs on the new album represent Lil Nas X's total journey here, from "places I've been to places I want to go."

"You're getting a lot of stories about me," he says. "You're getting a lot of stories about my past and where I want to be in my love life. But they're also a bop. I feel like I finally found a great balance between being as real as possible within my music and making a hit song."

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
| Credit: Adrian Per

Along with the Megan Thee Stallion collaboration, Lil Nas X teamed up with Elton John for "One of Me," Miley Cyrus for "Am I Dreaming" and Doja Cat for "Scoop" on the album, which also includes his previously released single "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)."

Like any parent, he has a lot of hopes and dreams for his "baby" on the way.

"I hope every single corner of the globe is reached with this album," he says, before declaring, "It's going to happen!"