It’s really cool to see Lil Nas X dip his toes into new waters here, and while there are obvious areas of improvement, he’s shown his utter likeability and a keen ear for music on his debut EP. The gimmicks are clear for all to see, but what did we honestly expect from a former Nicki Minaj stan account and professional Internet shitposter? I think you’ll all be pleasantly surprised by 7, as Nas X proves he is no one trick pony (pun intended).
Is Lil Nas X the best underdog story of recent memory in hip-hop music? He has to be. His hilarious trap-country banger Old Town Road initially gained headlines for being removed from Billboard’s Country Charts in a puzzling decision from the powers that be. This headline prompted response so that not only would the song appear on the main chart, it would top the list for many weeks and become the most talked about song of 2019 so far. Billy Ray Cyrus appeared on a remix of the song and just like that, Lil Nas X was the next breakout star.
His promotional campaign of this has been exceptional, maintaining the song’s shelf life to absolute perfection and ensuring it doesn’t grow tiresome. Just as it was reaching the end of it’s tenure, he has announced and released the 7 EP, featuring the aforementioned hit and six new songs.
Musically he actually showed plenty of promise on Old Town Road, no matter how much of a meme it is, the song slaps and that much is a fact. It meant that when the release of this EP came around I was genuinely intrigued to see what he had in store. Well, it is actually quite the surprise.
Lil Nas X’s fusion of genres on here is admirable; he sticks with country-trap on Rodeo but also shows his ability to make an accessible rap song in the form of the infectious Panini. Hell, he even goes for industrial rock with the help of Travis Barker on F9mily (You & Me), opting for the kind of instrumental you’d expect to hear a trendy indie-rock band make. Panini and Rodeo are fantastically executed pop-rap songs with nice melodies and polished beats; it’s not hard to recognise the talent he has when songs like this exist. I mean, he literally interpolates Nirvana’s In Bloom for the vocal melody in the hook of Panini, that’s major big dick energy.
Don’t get me wrong, some of these songs aren’t amazing, they come across fairly gimmicky and almost parody-style at times; but they’re certainly one thing and that is catchy. He could be accused of sharing similar traits to an artist like Travis Scott, an obvious influence of his, in the way his vocals can drown in autotune to create an eerie atmosphere; but he manages to put his own stamp on things. Nas X’s subtle flows make for some stellar hooks and show clear as day potential for an artist who clearly wanted to try new things.
I think Lil Nas X deserves a lot of credit for this EP, he could have so easily tried running with the same country twinge trap formula that worked so effectively on Old Town Road; but he instead aimed to be more ambitious. While he may not have entirely stuck the landing, this will be more than enough to tide him over until the inevitable debut album lands in the future. There’s catchy bangers on here and plenty of signs to believe he’s not a one hit wonder.