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Review: Lil Nas X – ‘7’

A fresh, diverse, debut piece of work.

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When Lil Nas X released “Old Town Road Remix” with Billy Ray Cyrus as the supporting feature, the music world caught a glimpse of a 20-year-old artist who is capable of something other debut artists struggle to achieve: bending genres and sailing to the top of the charts. Recently, Lil Nas dropped his first collection of songs, 7.  Prior to this drop, I thought he would be another one hit wonder. But, this EP comes through with even solid songs that demonstrate his affinity for contrasting genres.

7 is a healthy mix that flirts with the country, rap, hip-hop, and rock genres. decipher between the hip-hop and rock songs on 7, notice the way Lil Nas X uses the 808. On tracks such as “Rodeo” featuring Cardi B and “Panini,” the 808 is very present, although used differently. In “Rodeo”, the 808 is heavy and prominent, but “Panini” uses a sprite 808. Both of these songs demonstrate the hip-hop genre, while the song “C7osure (You Like)” has no 808 at all – introducing a fuse of boy band and house music to the EP.

“F9mily (You & Me)” is where the EP begins to go down an unexpected “Road,” if you will. track puts Lil Nas in a band setting with a distorted electric guitar, a happy drummer, and a smooth 808 that comes in at the last fifty seconds. It captures the feel good, breezy tones that boy bands capture, and Lil Nas somehow executes it effortlessly. 

“Kick It” puts us right back on the route we started on with the EP. It is a lo-fi type beat with saxophone accents and a low-serving 808 that carries throughout.  At 1:27, we are introduced to a drum breakdown which, again, exhibits a rock band influence.  It is within these moments in the EP that show Lil Nas is dedicated to solidifying his genre bending reputation. 

The inclusion of Cardi B showed promise on the track “Rodeo” before I even pressed play. But when the western guitar sample is laid over hi-hats and drums that brought me back for another listen.  Lil Nas and Cardi B flow effortlessly over the beat and together make a great dynamic duo.

Lil Nas brings us back to the rock genre influences to wrap up 7. “Bring U Down” is introduced with an electric bass line that carries throughout the tune.  But other than that, there is not much that stands out in this song besides the reminder that Lil Nas is capable of springing into a band setting.

“C7osure (You Like)” is an upbeat song with piano and drums setting the backdrop.  Lil Nas really tests his melodic and vocal capabilities with this one. Although the song is upbeat, there is a lot of space within the arrangement to dive in melodically and Lil Nas does just that.

7 drives home the message that artists do not always have to stick to one type of music and can use their musical capabilities to bend to any genre. The only place this EP missed the mark for me is in the rotation of the songs. If it was pieced together differently, with the hip-hop/rap songs on the first half and the band/rock influences on the back half, the track list would be more cohesive.

All in all, this is a fresh, diverse, debut piece of work from a young, talented artist, and I certainly look forward to hearing more.

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