On December 3, 2018, the then 19-year-old rapper Lil Nas X quietly uploaded his debut song “Old Town Road” to YouTube. It was ostensibly a joke with its Red Dead Redemption 2-themed video, unabashed “yeehaw agenda” sloganeering, and the Nine Inch Nails-sampling beat courtesy of producer YoungKio. But the song went viral on TikTok, landed on the Billboard country charts (before it infamously removed), got a remix from Billy Ray Cyrus, and has since sat comfortably on top of the Hot 100 for the last 11 weeks. That’s a lot of attention, hype, and pressure for any artist—but it’s especially so for one who's only officially released a single track.
But with his forthcoming 7 EP, out Friday, the artist born Montero Lamar Hill can branch out from the overwhelming attention his debut received. The upcoming effort is seven songs total and features a new single called “Panini.” The song is a left turn for Lil Nas X that ditches the cowboy affectations of “Old Town Road” in favor of a more straightforward trap pop vibe. Over a booming and expansive bass and drums from producers Take a Daytrip and Dot da Genius, Lil Nas X proves he can write some infectious hooks as he croons, “Just say to me what you want from me.” That line's melody kinda sounds like Nirvana's "In Bloom," which could be why Kurt Cobain is officially credited as a songwriter on Apple Music.
"Panini" is a song about his newfound success and the expectations of his burgeoning fanbase that references the kids' show Chowder. It first premiered on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 Radio Show, where he revealed, "I really want this to happen. I already know it's going to happen to get Drake on the remix of "Panini..." This man's a goat. he's the biggest inspiration musically for everybody." If Lil Nas X is for real, his ambitions match his already stratospheric ascent.
While it’s way too early and the bar is set too high to compare it to his first single, this track has enough legs to stand on its own. Listen and watch the trippy, spaced out music video below.