Lil Nas X just released his debut project, an EP titled 7, and I am here to tell you that this young man’s winning streak is not close to being over. For one, “Old Town Road” is still sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 — 11 weeks and counting — but this lil EP he just dropped? I wasn’t ready.

The eight-track EP is book-ended by the “Old Town Road” remix (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus) and the original version. It seems to be his way of reminding the listener of why we’re all here in the first place. “Old Town Road” has never been my cup of tea, but I was fascinated enough by his story to want to hear what he had to offer. As you’re about to find out, I was not disappointed.

The second track is a song called “Panini,” which sounds like what a Travis Scott song would sound like if Travis Scott committed to making songs that were sonically pleasing. Lil Nas X goes from rapping to singing and rapping again on the track, which is under 2 minutes long. The refrain is sung over a drum beat that makes you think the song is about to transition from hip-hop to rock, but then X brings it back. “Panini” is by far the best on the EP and Lil Nas X would be an idiot to not make it a single while we have this good weather.

The next track is “F9mily (You & Me), which is a rock song through and through. If it reminds you of Blink 182, it’s because the song was produced by Travis Barker. As far as rock songs go, it’s not half-bad, but I won’t be listening to this one on my free time.

“Kick It” is another chune. We get a lot of bass, but we also get horns and violins. And while it is certainly a hip-hop song, it dips in and out of rock in certain segments.

The song starts with Lil Nas X rapping about his new-found fame and how old associates are being hella chummy so they can kick it. On the second verse, he appears to be reciting words from an angry old associate who’s mad about being curved and turns on X, saying that he’ll fall off in two months. It’s an interesting song that feels like a little more personal than the rest of the album, and from a purely musical standpoint, it is truly amazing. If “Panini” is No. 1, “Kick It” is definitely No. 2.

Lil Nas X recruited Cardi B for “Rodeo,” which sounds like a third (and much better) version of “Old Town Road.” Bardi’s verse is full of quotables that are sure to be coming to an IG caption near you.

“Rodeo” is followed by “Bring U Down,” which X had previewed on IG months ago. The snippet sounded promising and the full song did not disappoint. Like “F9mily,” this is also a full-blown rock song, but the only difference is that I would listen to this one without being forced.

The EP’s seventh track (and the last of the new material) is a song called “C7losure (You Like),” which was produced by Allen Ritter and hitmaker Boi-1da. The track sounds like something you’d expect from Daniel Bedingfield, Shift K3y or some other white Brit who mixes R&B and EDM. It’s no “Panini,” but it’s a solid track.

I remain in awe of Lil Nas X’s story. Even if it ended with “Old Town Road,” it would be remarkable, but after listening to 7, it is clear that Lil Nas X will be around till at least 2020. In just under 20 minutes, he showed us a great deal of range and dispelled any thoughts about his ability to make another hit. If 2019 did nothing else right, it gave us Lil Nas X, and for that, we owe it gratitude.

Album rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Nicki Minaj samples dancehall classic “Filthy Riddim” for her higly anticipated new single, “Megatron.” The song — presumably a lead single from her next album — might not be her best, but it is certainly good enough. There’s a line about a mega con followed by a line about this being a race and not a marathon, which can only be a Cardi B diss. I wish Nicki would let this go, but either way, dope bar.

There’s also another line where Nicki defends her relationship with boyfriend Kenneth Petty (a.k.a. ZooBang), who served time for a sex offense. I got nothing.

The video stays true to the song’s dancehall influences. Click play.

Today is Lionel Richie’s 70th birthday, so this week’s TBT selection has to be something from his amazing catalog.

In August of 1981, Unc Lionel linked up with Diana Ross to record “Endless Love,” a song he wrote and produced for the soundtrack of a movie with the same title. The movie wasn’t much of a hit, but that song? A stone cold winner.

“Endless Love” spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars and Record of the Year at the Grammys. It would become the biggest hit for both artists, and for Diana, her 18th career No. 1 and sixth as a solo artist. Practically, she’s tied with Mariah Carey for most No. 1s among female artists, but Billboard separates tallies for artists who have been a part of different acts.

(Speaking of Mariah, she made an amazing cover of this song with Luther Vandross that is definitely worth checking out.)

Below is a live performance of “Endless Love” at the 1982 Oscars. Enjoy.

June 14, 2019, marked the 20th anniversary of “Bills, Bills, Bills,” the lead single from Destiny’s Child’s sophomore album, The Writing’s on the Wall, and the group’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was co-written by Kandi Burruss, Kevin Briggs and all four members of the group at the time — Beyoncé, Kelly, LeToya and LaTavia.

Much like Kandi’s other “man-bashing” creation, “No Scrubs,” “Bills, Bills, Bills” had certain types of men in their feelings. And like they did for “No Scrubs,” Sporty Thievz made another response track, but it didn’t stick quite like “No Pigeons.”

The music video, which was set in a hair salon, was an homage to the group’s stylist and Bey’s mama, Tina Knowles. However, that’s not the most interest fact about the video: Among its extras is soon-to-be replacement Farrah Franklin, who would only last all of six months in the group. What a time.

Join me in revisiting this classic!

Following the historic NBA Championship win by his home team, Drake dropped two new songs that I’m just not crazy about: “Omertà” and “Money in the Grave” (featuring Rick Ross). The rapping is good, so if you’re someone who is solely concerned with lyrics, you might enjoy both songs. There are more than a few caption-worthy bars. However, if you’re looking for a summertime chune, you may have to wait till next time.

“Omertà” is making news because more than a few lines seem to reference the situation with Pusha T, with Drizzy rapping about niggas telling on him and whatnot. For those who don’t remember, Pusha T essentially forced Drake into disclosing that he had fathered a child — months before he had planned to.

There’s also a line about a traitor, which can only be about Kanye West.

The Rozay-assisted “Money in the Grave” (the better of the two, IMHO) requires less investigation. There are a few bars here that might make you wonder if he’s talking about certain people, but it’s generally just Drake and Rick Ross rapping about how much they’re winning. Check both tracks out below.


“Money in the Grave”

“Anything” by SWV is one of those songs that are burned into my brain because my elder sisters would not stop playing it. Whenever I hear it, it takes me right back to our living, where my siblings and I would huddle around the TV watching videos we had dubbed from MTV — I totally just dated myself, but whatever. It was a beautiful time and I’m glad I got to experience the anticipation of waiting for your favorite music videos to come on just so you could record and watch them whenever you wanted. You young’ns cannot begin to relate.

This week’s TBT selection is the Above the Rim version of “Anything,” which is technically a remix, but what people think of as the “Anything” remix is the version featuring the Wu-Tang Clan. The original version, featured on the group’s debut album, It’s About Time, is a ballad that is decent but somewhat forgettable.

The remix, which is based on Freedom’s “Get up and Dance,” takes the song up a thousand levels. The beat knocks super hard and Coko — who turns 49 today — sangs her ass off. The song was such a hit in our home that I was shocked to find out that it only peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. If only more people had taste. Click play.

Chris Brown linked up with Drake for “No Guidance,” which sounds like something from each artist’s previous albums. Though Drake is only featured on the track, he definitely gets more track time. Also, the track slows down towards the end like many of the songs on Nothing Was the Same (Drake’s 2013 LP), which makes it feel like more of a Drizzy song than a Breezy song.

Overall, “No Guidance” is right on time for the warm weather but far from remarkable. Check it out below.

DeBarge is one of those musical acts that I always seem to have in rotation. I can’t say no to a good melody and I love me a high-pitched voice — and not to mention, many of their songs are timeless. If you ever doubt this, you need look no further than the several classics that are built on DeBarge samples.

This week, the TBT selection is from DeBarge because this past Tuesday was El DeBarge’s birthday, and more importantly, why the hell not? Much like last week, I’m going with a deep cut once again because some of the best music ever made never got the commercial treatment.

DeBarge’s second studio album, All This Love, which gave us two of the group’s most notable hits — the title track and “I Like It” — had a hidden gem among the album cuts. The album’s sixth track, “It’s Getting Stronger,” can go toe-to-toe with many of the group’s biggest hits and I’m willing to fight anybody over this. The song is standard DeBarge mixed with a little a bit of disco, and the end-result is a muhfuckin’ chune. Think I’m lying? Click play.

Cardi B just dropped “Press,” a song that is very reminiscent — in production and in mood — of her breakout hit “Bodak Yellow.” As the title might indicate, Bardi is rapping about the press and how she doesn’t need more of it, which is arguably false but definitely makes for a good song lyric.

Recently, Cardi has lashed out at certain media outlets, particularly the Shade Room, for only covering negative stories about her, so one may assume that is what inspired these lyrics.

“Press” is presumably the third lead single — after “Money” and “Please Me” — from her highly anticipated sophomore album. Check it out below.

Earlier this week, during her Caution World Tour stop in London, Mariah Carey dug deep and sung the chorus of “Slipping Away,” which is a B-side that only a true R&B connoisseur would be familiar with. The song was the B-side for “Always Be My Baby,” but was never included on any of her albums — against Mariah’s wishes.

Mariah has explained on a number of occasions that the song was thought of as too “urban” for her image at the time, which may seem weird today, but if you consider her “pop” polish circa ’95, it kinda makes sense. I mean…it’s bullshit and definitely reeks of racism, but it can be explained. Sort of.

The album that it was excluded from, Daydream, also had “Fantasy” and “Long Ago,” which are certainly more “urban” if we really wanna talk about it, but perhaps Tommy Mottola had an “urban” track quota for his then-wife.

In any case, “Slipping Away” is a groovy-ass mid-tempo that will take you right back to that era of R&B. They simply don’t make ’em like this no more and Columbia Records played itself by not at least including it on Daydream. Click play and thank me later.