Kylie Jenner

Photo by Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Since Hugh Hefner's death in 2017, Playboy's been re-branding itself to appeal to millennials by hiring fine art photographers for high concept photo shoots, naming a gay man and proud Taylor Swift fan as its executive editor, re-committing to printing nudity, and replacing its original motto, "Entertainment for men," with "Naked is normal."

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MUSIC

Lil Nas X Won't Leave You Alone in the New "Panini" Video

It's the hitmaker's latest video, and it marks his official metamorphosis from cowboy to robot.

Lil Nas X

Photo by Image Press Agency (Shutterstock)

Lil Nas X has officially hacked the system.

The official video for "Panini" just dropped, and it's an ultra-futuristic, Blade Runner-inspired montage of neon lights and dancing holograms.

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Let's hit it.

Columbia Records

No one at Columbia Records can tell Lil Nas X nothing, especially in regards to the promotion of "Old Town Road."

The summer hit is a less than a week away from qualifying as the longest #1 single in chart history (16 weeks). Meanwhile, Lil Nas X continues to reign supreme as our meme-lord. After releasing the song's third remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug, and Mason Ramsey, Lil Nas X is back at it with the remix's music video. The video piggybacks off the latest phenomenon in meme culture, a call to invade Area 51.

The meme-savant collaborated with animator SomehoodLum to create a world with gratifying visuals and engaging narrative. Compared to other music videos, Lil Nas X's work always stands out, in that they actually tell a story. (Seriously, the bar is that low). The video features even more cultural fixtures, like Thanos and Keanu Reeves. It's a simplistic but satisfying in its story-telling of a silly adventure.

Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus, Young Thug, & Mason Ramsey – Old Town Road (Area 51 Video)www.youtube.com


MUSIC

Lil Nas X Continues His Reign as Meme-Lord with Latest "Old Town Road" Remix

Lil Nas X is racking up innovative, delightful remixes of "Old Town Road" like Thanos collected Infinity Stones.

Lil Nas X latest remix has taken meme culture to new heights.

Columbia Records

Milking the summer hit "Old Town Road" for all it's worth, Lil Nas X is out here dominating the charts and the motherf***ing Internet.

After trolling with Gordon Ramsay following "Panini"'s release, Lil Nas X has taken meme culture to new heights with his new "Old Town Road" remix featuring Young Thug and Mason Ramsey (of Walmart yodeling fame). Just when you'd think Lil Nas X is running out of steam, he drops a new song (or a version of a song). Currently on its 14th-week as #1, "Old Town Road" is close to breaking a significant record: the longest running number one single. Whether he's releasing a new remix to stir up more conversation or maintain the anthem's #1 spot, we're here for it.

Young Thug and Mason Ramsey were genius choices for the song's third remix. Young Thug began the campaign to bring cowboy aesthetics to rap music. The Atlanta grown, charismatic artist has also pushed against perpetuated gender norms in the black and hip-hop community. Pairing Young Thug with Mason Ramsey packs a one-two punch. The imaginative rapper sets up the Twitter viral yodeler for a slam dunk on the concluding verse. Unsurprisingly, it's easy to start questioning your life and taste when Mason Ramsey outperforms Young Thug. Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Mason Ramsey fit together like puzzle pieces. Unfortunately, Young Thug is an audible outlier on the quick, less than three-minute track, with his misplaced, but versatile vocal performance. Mason Ramsey's meme-ability prevails alongside Lil Nas X's.

Nowadays, mainstream artists infest their singles and albums with more and more features than ever to increase their audience and streaming numbers. The obvious tactic has grown tired. With four performers on the new remix, one would think it'd be oppressive to the light nature of a hit like "Old Town Road." Instead, the features elevate the song's potential— it's even more of a gosh darn bop. The success of the song's remixes prove its singular ability for artists to hop on the track and make it their own.

Today, Lil Nas X is racking up innovative, delightful remixes of "Old Town Road" like Thanos collected Infinity Stones. The only difference: People are actually rooting for Lil Nas X. Undoubtedly, this version will push the first "Old Town Road" remix to the record-breaking finish line. His EP, 7, may not have not proved who he is as an artist, but the latest remix will extend his shelf life in the public consciousness before his debut album.

Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus feat. Young Thug & Mason Ramsey - Old Town Road (Remix) [Lyric Video]www.youtube.com

CULTURE

Where Does Lil Nas X Go From Here?

What kids connect to today is more relevant than easy-to-swallow pop.

Lil Nas X (of "Old Town Road" fame) is refreshingly wholesome and unique, reminding us chart-topping music doesn't need to pander.

Charting for the ninth week in a row, "Old Town Road Remix" ft. Billy Ray Cyrus has been the song of the summer since it hit the charts in January. Instead of releasing new music, Lil Nas X is growing his fan base by releasing new memes and trolling himself and his haters. Better yet, he's giving his followers a glimpse of his life. Having recently moved into his first apartment, 20-year-old Montero Lamar Hill is unveiling enough of himself to seem like he's accessible. Gen Z and Millennials might seem to be glued to their phones, but really they want to be in the know. With his internet and musical success, it's hard to imagine Hill outside of the box he intentionally placed himself into: on our devices, on Twitter.

But the rapper hiding behind his phone has more to say than a joke. Teen Vogue's recent profile of Hill finally offered readers insight to the mind behind the hit song and Twitter account. In the interview, Hill admitted he originally had trouble finding his sound, mainly searching for ways to make his first EP, Nasarati, go viral. Between trap beats, tongue-in-cheek, and trending titles, the intention was clever, but ineffective. The reason? The heart wasn't there, so his voice and personality couldn't shine.

The standout song from Nasarati is "Carry On," which now has over 900k streams on SoundCloud. The lyrics of the overproduced track unveil a perspective most would not expect from the goofy rapper. Bobby Caldwell's '80s track carries us into the song, as Hill raps about his complicated family dynamics: "My grandma died / I shed some tears / my mama lied / she left me here." Being the youngest of six children, finally moving into his own apartment after the success of "Old Town Road" was a big step for Hill. He lived with his father most of his life, then his grandmother. After she passed, he moved in with his sister, who had several of his other siblings living with her as well.

Shifting from a "Carry On" mentality, Hill took a big leap from self-reflection to autonomy. His "can't nobody tell me nothing" persona speaks of a kid who's ready for big things. While the over-saturated music market is filled with try-hards, Hill recognizes that the difference between his failures and success come from his intention to gain attention. Yet, his sudden success seems too easy to some, to the point that people question whether he's an industry plant: a theory he then memed.

Lil Nas X and other successful musicians who grew up with and weaponize social media pose a conundrum for industry staples. What kids connect to today is more relevant than easy-to-swallow pop. Mass consumption in the past meant radio-friendly music. But new artists are going against the grain, digging deeper than catchy and stepping up with role model beliefs, without the squeaky clean image. Not only are they stars who wear designers, they use their platforms for important issues, too. But who Gen Zers listen to now is only a snapshot of what's to come.

The music industry has been able to reinvent itself successfully for the Internet age. Artists embrace streaming nowadays, but that doesn't mean labels aren't attempting to milk each song's worth. For example, Nicki's twenty track Queen was tacked onto her blood curdling single, "FEFE" (ft. 6ix9ine), to increase streams and sway album sales. But Lil Nas X has reversed that narrative, messing with fans and his management by joking about only releasing new remixes of "Old Town Road." So he gets on stage and sings the same song over and over again to the crowd's delight, but how long can that last?

Hill is aware that the juice will, in fact, run out, trolling his haters that he's not actually a one trick pony. If his recent music video tells us anything, it's that he has a vision.

The music video is both plot-driven and fun in ways we rarely get nowadays. Perhaps Hill's spotlight can last based on personality alone. Look at Doja Cat and Cardi B. Internet culture may blow up the music, but their talent keeps them around for a reason. While it's hard to predict where Hill's career will go, early fame tends to widen the net of inspiration and success for new artists. The work ethic involved in maintaining an online personality can come with random outbursts and deleted tweets, but Hill runs to the bank with it. Whether or not he'll be a meme-queen forever is up for debate, but his influences go beyond the bubble of country-trap.

When Billboard decided to remove "Old Town Road" from their country charts, a debate was sparked as to how we define genres and whether content (lyrics) alone can encapsulate the genre. Our culture is ever-shifting and ever-blending between different sound, stories, and ideas. Lil Nas X isn't exactly a pioneer, but his story is a conversation starter and reminder that the younger generations want to hear the unexpected. If Hill is as smart as he seems to be, he'll take his moment in the spotlight and turn it into a rich, genre-bending career.

MUSIC

Bakermat Premieres New Single "Learn to Lose," and Comments On The Future of Melodic House

"I think a lot of guys are going for quantity lately, not quality. For me, music is about spreading a personal message, and I don't see that a lot anymore."

Dutch producer Lodewijk Fluttert, known as Bakermat, is not a name mainstream audiences would necessarily recognize, but they should.

The soft-spoken 27-year-old is one of melodic house's forefathers, and everyone from Kygo to Lost Frequencies and Klingande have credited the DJ as an inspiration. Bakermat paved the way for tropical house artists and is still one of the sub-genres most consistent creatives, but frankly, the sounds growing popularity concerns him. "I haven't been very optimistic lately about the direction melodic house is taking," Bakermat told Popdust. "I think a lot of guys are going for quantity lately, not quality. For me, music is about spreading a personal message, and I don't see that a lot anymore."

The DJ's new song, "Learn to Lose," premiering exclusively on Popdust, is strong evidence that Bakermat cares more about crafting compelling ideas than radio hits. "All the songs now are about love, but there's so much more to write about than just heartbreak." The single, featuring Alex Clare, describes the pressures of a hectic career and offers advice for those looking for guidance. "In order to succeed, you have to learn to lose," Bakersmat said of the track. "I hope this song helps people who are working hard to achieve something. I hope it will push people to go for it, no matter what."

We sat down with the DJ to talk about his new single, its quirky animated music video, and the future of melodic house music.

Tell me about the new single. What was the creative process like, and how did you connect with Alex Clare? How is this single different from your past work?

Well, I was looking for a good song and got sent "Learn To Lose" by Rhys Lewis. I immediately fell in love with the message of the song and thought it would be perfect in combination with my production. I think I made the track in a day because I knew exactly what I wanted. After that, it was a no brainer who the singer would be, because I've worked with Alex before, on 'Living,' and this song has a similar vibe and message.

The music video is adorable! How did the idea for it come about, and why did you feel stylistically this was the way to go?

Since I don't really feel comfortable being in front of a camera, I wanted to find a way to make my videos personal without appearing myself. That's when I came up with the idea to have an animated version of my dog star in them. I approached Studio Plumeau (an animation company in Utrecht, NL) with the idea and I fell in love with the first sketch they made. From there on we started coming up with storylines.

What are your plans for 2019?

I have some very exciting new music that I've been working on for a long time now. It's completely different than what I usually make, and I was afraid to release it for a long time. But now I'm confident enough to release it and show it to the world. Will probably be after the summer!

As a prominent figure in melodic house music, where do you see the genre going? Who do you see as being torchbearers of the genre?

I think the most important element of melodic house music is combining genres. It used to be a combination of jazz and house, then it kind of moved to a combo of disco, blues, soul, and house. In order for this genre to remain fresh, producers will have to keep experimenting by mixing genres together. The idea behind melodic house is that melody is key, whatever style you're going for. Torchbearers for me are guys like Lost Frequencies, Klingande, and Ofenbach, who try to remain unique and bring fresh original music.

Get more information about BakerMat's latest tour here


Mackenzie Cummings-Gradyis a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.


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