Lil Xan’s repetitive lyrics and lack of technique tank an otherwise quality album.
First off, I want to make it extremely, undeniably clear that this review reflects only my own personal opinions about Lil Xan’s new studio album “Total Xanarchy,” with exclusion to any other person’s or institution’s opinions and my own opinions of any other person or institution.
Now that we got that out of the way, wow, is this album mediocre.
“Total Xanarchy” is Lil Xan’s first studio album. Xan, whose real name is Diego Leanos, started his career, like many these days, as a SoundCloud rapper. Lil Xan’s style on “Total Xanarchy” appears to be strongly influenced by these Internet origins. He focuses heavily on repetition in his songs, relying more on the style of his intonation for variety. This style being a kind of mushiness in his pronunciations consistent with mumble rap.
I think the best way to describe Xan’s rapping ability is that he’s comparable to that one friend everyone has who seems to think they become amazing at rapping whenever they’re intoxicated and proceed to freestyle some of the worst lyrics with the dullest sense of flow. Just imagine that person getting their own hip-hop album.
I think the saddest aspect of “Total Xanarchy” is that Xan himself is the worst part of the album. Most of the beats on the record are actually pretty good, including one by Diplo. Young Xanathan was able to grab a couple nice features from the likes of 2 Chains and Charli XCX, among others. Consistently, though, Xan’s lyrics and technique fail to match the quality of his collaborators, much less shine through in his own album.
“Betrayal,” his most commercially successful single off the album, presents a pretty normal, if a tad slow, trap beat with a kind of melancholy twist to it. This is meant to complement Xan’s lyrical performance, which I guess it does, although this doesn’t make the lyrical performance any better. Xan’s first verse on this track shows his ability to have some sense of a more traditional hip-hop flow, even if his lyrics are horribly simplistic. However, even this bit of mediocrity falls away once the chorus hits and he’s just relying on atonal repetition again.
He hits his lowest point near the beginning of the record. The first three songs, “Who Am I,” “Wake Up” and “Tick Tock,” are a mess of repetition. This isn’t one of those “annoying yet infectious” situations like I have with Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang.” No, this is just annoying.
We get a little bit better near the middle and end of the record. Tracks Like “Moonlight,” “Betrayed” and “Color Blind” show a less-repetitive, slightly-more-talented Xan.
This album does have some high spots, however. As I partially explained before, the beats, and to some extent the productions as a whole, on this record are pretty good. This is due, in large part, to Bobby Johnson, although I wish he hadn’t put the words “you are now listening to a Bobby Johnson beat” in literally all of the songs he worked on.
2 Chains, Charli XCX and YG all have pretty good features on the songs “Tick Tock,” “Moonlight” and “Round Here,” respectively. 2 Chains is the only reason Tick Tock is at all bearable.
If I had to pick a best song, I’d say it’s “Color Blind,” the song for which Diplo made the beat. This track has Lil Xan at his least irritating, and Diplo produces a pretty good slow, yet still poppy, EDM beat. “Color Blind” and “Moonlight” are the only two tracks I would say are even worth a listen, honestly.
Now I know hip-hop has always been a genre that welcomes (some may say requires) collaboration and interartistry. This is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to the genre. However, an album’s primary artist should be the star of the album. “Total Xanarchy” fails stupendously in this regard. 4/10.