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)


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]


The Identity Crisis Behind Lil Nas X's Debut EP "7"

The EP is fun, but confirms that Lil Nas X doesn't quite know what to do.

By now, we all know the story. As told by The New York Times, NPR, Complex, Teen Vogue, Fader, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine, 20-year-old Montero Lamar Hall, otherwise known as Lil Nas X, is from Atlanta, Georgia, and he's currently (and unexpectedly) the biggest pop star in the country.

We all know he got his start online, curating 15-second musical quips, one of which would grow into the beast that is "Old Town Road." Hall had been pushing his music on Soundcloud for months, but none of it took until he tapped into the micro-niche of meme culture with "Old Town Road." By flooding the internet with witty and unique memes to promote the song, the curiosity of internet-culture-obsessed teen's grew quickly, with Hall remaining mum on any further details of the song. The quip caught national attention after social media influencer nicemichael used the track in one of his trendy dance videos on Tik Tok.

But, frankly, Lil Nas X could have gotten there on his own. "Old Town Road" was born for the internet. The song's quick length, simple beat, and earworm of a chorus made it perfect for sampling online in an abundance of hilarious ways. Throw in Hall's internet savvy personality, unique marketing creativity, and embrace of the already growing "YeeHaw Agenda," and the song was destined to take over the world with or without nicemichael's steady fanbase. Billboard's racism definitely helped, too!

Inevitably, as "Old Town Road" catapulted into the spotlight, so did the 20-year-old college dropout. To his credit, Hall embraced the black cowboy aesthetic in an amazingly authentic way. He struck up a deal with Wrangler jeans that left racist country fans reeling, and in almost every conceivable public appearance he wore a sophisticated yet unique take on cowboy attire. Then came "Old Town Road's" Billy Ray remix, and then the Diplo remix; with each new rendition being promoted as a standalone project, they revitalized a song that could have easily lost buoyancy after a few weeks in the spotlight. But at some point, Lil Nas X was going to run out of road, and Montero Lamar Hall was going to have to show people who he was.

During an appearance on Deus and Mero, he was introduced by the hosts as the "King of Country." "Wait, wait, wait, I don't want to say that," Hall chimed in. "I don't agree with that last one." In an interview with Complex, Hall was asked to explain who he was: "I'm from Atlanta, but I don't really consider myself an 'Atlanta rapper.'" So the question remained: Who was Montero Lamar Hall, and why was he so resistant to embrace a definition? On 7, Hall's messy but charming debut EP as Lil Nas X, he shows us that he's still on that journey, navigating the cesspool that is internet culture in the hopes of finding his next hit and an identity more authentic than a meme.

Yesterday, Lil Nas X released "Panini," an equally silly earworm that borrows almost nothing from the country-pop influence of "Old Town Road." The rapper credited Kurt Cobain as a songwriter, borrowing the song's melody from Nirvana's "In Bloom." On "F9mily (You & Me)," Lil Nas X worked alongside Blink-182's Travis Barker to craft a pop-punk track that Barker admits was initially meant for his band. On "Kick It," Lil Nas X experiments with lo-fi Jazzhop; on "Bring You Down," he plays around with Garage Rock. Almost every song is its own experiment, with Lil Nas X seemingly waiting to see which vibe people enjoy most.

"Yeah I'm going to talk about everything in my music," he told Complex. "[In the past] I was making music more that I thought people would want to hear." This sentiment has left critics like Pitchfork feeling duped. "We don't learn a single thing about Lil Nas X on 7 other than he might have actually been born in a Reddit test tube in 2018." But what is there to know? He's confirmed hundreds of times that he's just a kid from Atlanta who stumbled into fame completely by accident. His music isn't born out of personal emotional turmoil or a form of creative catharsis; its sole purpose is to be consumed by the masses as lighthearted entertainment. He rhymed "Panini" with "meanie," "teeny" and "genie," for god's sake!

Montero Lamar Hall doesn't pretend to know what he wants Lil Nas X to be, and 7 proves that he frankly still has no idea. It's impossible not to admire his willingness to experiment and share his identity crisis with fans, even if the result isn't a necessarily cohesive or groundbreaking album. It's enjoyable for now, but even Hall, who has openly struggled with anxiety, admits this simply can't go on forever. "Why's it always what you like?" he sings cryptically to the masses on "C7osure (You Like)": "Ain't no more actin' / man that forecast say I should just let me grow." The track offers a poignant moment of vulnerability. Lil Nas X has been backed into a corner thanks to his viral success, and while it's all fun and games for now, it's clear that the rapper doesn't know how to turn his trending goofiness into the respected, bona fide rap career he's strived for since the beginning. Lil Nas X has arrived thanks to the power of social media, but the question still remains: Now what?


Lil Nas X’s “Panini” Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

The song may be catchy, but the production is elusive and repetitive—overbearingly so.

Lil Nas X finally took off his cowboy hat.

After months of teasing the drop of his next single, "Panini," he finally did it—the day before his EP 7's release. Accompanied by a futuristic music video, "Panini" is a heel turn from the chart-topping "Old Town Road."

The lean one minute and fifty-five-second song bops just enough to earn a place on playlists for summertime drives. With a chorus that interpolates Nirvana's "In Bloom," "Panini" seems rushed in order for Lil Nas X to have something to say and a way to say it; in the chorus he directly says, "Say to me / What you really want from me."

Unfortunately, that's a hard plea to answer. After the success of "Old Town Road," many had no idea where he'd go, and judging by "Panini," it seems like he doesn't know either. While the genre-bending artist exploded this past spring and showed prowess in his debut single, on "Panini" he's measured—maybe even cautious. The song may be catchy, but the production is elusive and repetitive, overbearingly so.

This time around, there's no question what Billboard chart "Panini" will be categorized under: rap. Travis Scott's influence on Lil Nas X is front and center with the song's smooth, futuristic production. However, on "Panini," Lil Nas X fails to be as imaginative as he was in its predecessor. He's unfortunately struggling to keep up with expectations to create something new. That's not to say Lil Nas X is a one-hit wonder, but on "Panini" he's only skimming the surface of his potential.


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.