The verdict is in: Lil Nas X is the realest of deals. After being subjected to a deluge of dissent — first from Billboard, and then cynical Millennial critics (beginning to resemble their Boomer parents) — X struck back, and struck gold in the process. “Old Town Road (Remix)” is a genre-bending anthem! And we — who are woke — all know and love it, and recognize how deserving every moment of its 17 weeks atop the charts has been, especially over serial lazy-boy culture-vulture Drake (who this year re-released an ancient mixtape for the umpteenth time). “Kick It” galvanizes this genre-fluid concept, transforming from trap-banger into jazz-rap with increasingly intensified saxophone bleats that ultimately sublimate into X’s fractured take on rock n’roll, with the addition of a kick drum — all set over glitchy, reversed instrumentals that dissipate into the ether — that reveal just how pathetically shallow “woke” Millennial favorite To Pimp A Butterfly’s genre experimentation really was. “Panini,” the next smash hit off the 7 EP, follows suit, reconfiguring the sad-boy anthem of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” into a heart-stopping ode for Chowder ingénue Panini; the confluence of a childhood built upon media identification. X’s recent (and triumphant) coming-out complicates the typically-coded heterosexuality in the song: “Hey Panini / Don’t you be a meanie,” updating normative desire towards a more universal anti-bullying message. “Bring You Down” tears crusty old college rockers a new one, copping a grungy bass guitar lick and building an actual song (nay, banger) from it.
Truly, though, it’s “Rodeo” that proves Billy Ray Cyrus’s tweet that defended “Old Town Road” (“it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do you need?”) most instructive: The revolutionary sentiment hidden within each Gen-Z fan reveals itself in the bar, “If I spoke on your behalf / Then you wouldn’t know how to talk,” a motto that resurrects the trademark of sole Socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs: “I wouldn’t lead you into the promised land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could you lead you out of it.” X released his EP a mere five days before the historic, paradigm-shifting first 2019 Democratic Debate. Coincidence? I think not. Within a few short months, Lil Nas X has generated waves of positivity, love, and progress emanating throughout our entire culture. So let me put it simply: if you don’t like Lil Nas X, you hate the kids. Like the typical, smarmy, neo-liberal you are, you’re afraid that you don’t understand the sound, the movement — so you choose to hate. The new Zoomer sincerity is jumbling the circuits in your aging, post-ironic Millennial brain. Your reign is over. It’s time to, if I may quote Atlanta’s (now former) poster-boys: “Fuck it, crown the king.”
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 10.