Thanks to the Billy Ray Cyus-featuring, Nine Inch Nails-sampling “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X has established himself as a genre-bending phenomenon. The country-rap track has dominated the charts for much of the spring and summer, and on his follow-up to the unexpected smash he further celebrates the glory of 1991. “Panini,” the first song to be released from a forthcoming EP, leads with an interpolation of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” — which was also, apparently, Nas’ introduction to the music of Nirvana.
“A lot of songs will even come to me [when] I’m sleeping or something,” he explained to Zane Lowe during a Beats 1 interview. “Like a melody. And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s fly.’ But the craziest thing about “Panini” is it introduced me to Nirvana’s album Nevermind. I always seen the cover, but I never actually listened to it.”
According to the 20-year-old, he didn’t realize that the melody on the chorus was similar to the one on “In Bloom,” which led to a Nirvana writing credit on the track. The song, which is featured on his debut EP 7, got the final blessing from the Resident Millennial of the Nirvana estate, Frances Bean Cobain. Lil Nas X tweeted a “thank you” to the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
panini interpolates parts of nirvana’s “in bloom”. special thank you to frances bean cobain for this!! 🖤
— nope (@LilNasX) June 20, 2019
Now, the rising star considers himself a fan. “I’ve been listening to it a lot lately actually,” he continued.
Of course, Lil Nas X was born nearly eight years after Nevermind caused its own cultural phenomenon — so not knowing Nirvana isn’t totally insane, but sure does make this writer feel incredibly old. Still, with accidental Nine Inch Nails (his producer discovered the “Old Town Road” sample while jumping around YouTube) and Nirvana samples under his belt, Lil Nas X should keep this trend going. Someone play him some Smashing Pumpkins, Hole and Pearl Jam as soon as possible: The culture needs a full album’s worth of wacky, genre-defying interpolations of the alt-rock canon.