This piece could have been titled “Lil Nas X Disappoints with ‘7’ EP,” but in order to disappoint there must me some amount of expectation. I had absolutely no expectations for Lil Nas X because this is his first body of musical work. That being said, 7 is easily the worst mainstream release of 2019 so far. 7 sounds like the result of a four-year-old’s experimentation with GarageBand mixed with the lyrical skill of a middle schooler.
The most striking part of 7 is how manufactured for success it is. Every song is around 2.5 minutes (the shorter song, the higher the streams) and the EP opens with the remixed version of “Old Town Road” and closes with the original version of the #1 hit. The issue is 7 is that most of the songs don’t make any sense. Take “F9mily (You & Me),” for example, Lil Nas sings for 2 minutes and 38 seconds, yet by the end of the song you have no clue what it’s about. Lil Nas croons “Yeah, you and me, my friend, you best believe/We gotta fix this family” before rapping “you and me, yeah, we make pods, we the peas.” His sense of rhyme and metaphor are elementary at best and insulting to the legacy of hip-hop at worst.
There is a deceptive bright spot with “Bring U Down” where Lil Nas X raps from the point of view of his haters, but the song is so mind-numbingly repetitive that there is barely any structure to the track. Then there’s “Rodeo,” a collaboration with Cardi B. On “Rodeo,” Lil Nas returns to the country style that made “Old Town Road” a record-breaking hit. Truthfully, the track is corny and a clear ploy for another hit. It follows the same formula as “Old Town Road” and Cardi offers a verse that sounds like a poor man’s mashup of her “Be Careful” and “MotorSport” verses. The entire track is a waste of space, like the vast majority of 7, but it will most likely be a hit.
On 7, Lil Nas seems to try on different genres for the sake of being “different.” Blending genres can create moments of unadulterated musical genius, but the blending has to make sense. There is a logic to all of this that seems haphazard and, quite frankly, lacking. His melodies often feel as if they are fighting with the beat, and there is lack of care for the craft in his music. There are times when he strikes gold (“Old Town Road”; “Panini”) and times when the songs feel fraudulent (“Bring U Down”; “Kick It”). Some will say it’s a triumph for the post-genre movement, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good music.
Even if Lil Nas never has another hit, his social media prowess and the success of “Old Town Road” has him set for generations to come. Nevertheless, 7 is chock full of misses and the EP never captures the magic of “Old Town Road.”