Lil Nas X‘s biography reads like that of many teens grasping at fame any way they can. He tried being a comedian with videos on Vine and Facebook. He ran a Nicki Minaj fan account on Twitter. He posted a mixtape to Soundcloud. He posted videos to Tik Tok. Finally, his music took hold with “Old Town Road” in a big way. The track broke Drake‘s record for the most US streams in one week and became a socio-political lightning rod with Billboard removing it from their country charts because it did “not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.” While still the number one song on Billboard Hot 100, Lil Nas X released his debut EP, 7 EP.
Much like Lil Nas X’s backstory, the EP throws a lot at the wall hoping something sticks. The album’s second single “Panini” is a synth-filled trap song which includes an interpolation of Nirvana‘s “In Bloom.” It is immediately followed by the Travis Barker produced “F9mily (You & Me)” which is an actual rock song. The track has guitars, live drums, distorted vocals. All before Nas takes it back to the country-trap vibe with “Rodeo.”
“Rodeo” is arguably the strong song on the album (yes, even better than “Old Town Road”). Its chorus of “If I took you everywhere, then well, you wouldn’t know how to walk/If I spoke on your behalf, then well, you wouldn’t know how to talk/If I gave you everything and everything is what I bought/I can take it all back…” is about empowering women and keeping some autonomy in relationships. Cardi B adds a verse on the song which doesn’t keep with the theme but does include the gem of a line “my heart break, bones will crack/I be chilling, watching Oxygen, my favorite show is Snapped.”
The closing tracks on the album do not build on the success of “Rodeo.” “Bring You Down,” produced by OneRepublic‘s Ryan Tedder, is another rock song that delivers very little in the form of feeling or lyrics; the phrase “I don’t know what’s gonna bring you down” is sung 18 times over the 2:12 running time of the track. “C7osure (You Like)” is produced by frequent Drake collaborator, Boi-1da and sounds like a lifeless version of “Take Care.” With a four-on-the-floor beat and Lil Nas X trying his hand at falsetto vocals, it feels the most out of place on the album which is saying a lot since 7 EP is so scatterbrained to begin with.
The album’s diversity is not its strength. It’s no surprised that the country-trap songs are the best offerings on the album. Some of the other genres explored are interesting but none feel very successful. At only 20 years old, Lil Nas X has the potential for a long career but he could just as easily go the way of Shop Boyz‘ post-“Party Like A Rock Star” fame.