Lil Xan - Total Xanarchy (Review)

Martin_Canine LIL XAN
Total Xanarchy

6ix9ine desperately needs to get some of Lil Xan’s producers. It can’t be the rapper with the soft slurry voice gets beats that are hard and dark, while the aggressive crunk vocalist has to settle with smooth ones. The difference between the debut albums of the two may be that the first situation works out much better than the latter. While 6ix9ine’s album had little to back up the huge amount of energy from the vocalist, Xan’s apathetic mumbling adds a certain melody and catchiness to the extremely strong beat work.

Total Xanarchy is an awful lot of fun and at the same time doesn’t fall flat on showing some self reflection here and there. The title is actually a good indication of what to expect because convention really isn’t Xan’s style. Next to the instrumentals of Yung Hurn’s Mhm and Y. Hurn wieso? the beat of Tick Tock is among the most chaotic ones this year has to offer, and still conveys a thoroughly musical vibe. It’s wild, and yes, it’s punk, despite not containing rock elements. Similarly, The Man is an absolute banger. The bass is distorted to extremes, and you will find yourself humming “God damn, god damn, Lil Xanny, the man” for hours to come. Songs like these grant an entertaining time. Their lyrical content is not very original, and focuses mostly on bragging and sex (or, as a natural conclusion, bragging with sex), but more than adlibs not necessary for such flexing songs. What’s much more important is that trappers like Xan feel the beat and start smoothly flowing along with it, becoming a unit with it, and that’s definitely the case here.

Speaking of sex, one moment that stands out is Moonlight, a duet with singer Charli XCX. Heavily drenched in Autotune, I never heard the woman known best for songs like I Love It and Fancy as melodious before, yet also never on such a great beat made from deep 808s, soft guitars and playful pianos. Basically, it’s the 2018 version of Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s Drunk in Love, with lyrics about spending a fun night together under the influence of liquor. Both songs are notable for their sex-positive attitude, and how they actually don’t make the act sound vulgar, but like a mutual, natural experience for both of them: “It don't mean s--t if you ain't happy, though / Happiness is all that matters, this I hope you know / And f--k it, let's just see what happens, take a risk, let's take a trip”. It’s a harsh contrast to the two songs I mentioned before, because it’s more caring, more personal and less crude.

Saved by the Bell tells, in admittedly little words, what people with artistic ambitions hear from their teachers everyday: that they would never make it, and that one day they wished they would have paid attention in school. But suddenly, once they are famous, they start bragging with their celebrity student. I am not famous, and my teachers were all pretty nice, but I have still heard similar stories quite often, and I am always happy when the stories end up like this.

But Lil Xan gets even more personal on Betrayed, a song that focuses on two kinds of betrayal: the verses are about what most people would actually understand by the term, a woman who pretends she loves him, but whose feelings aren’t real, while the chorus mentions how drugs makes your body and mind pretend to feel good, while they actually cause damage and addiction. “Xans don't make you / Xans gon take you / Xans gon fake you / Xans gon' betray you”, he raps.
He also deals with the first issue on the Diplo-produced synthie earworm Color Blind: “Love don't cost a thing, yeah / So all my girls need diamond ring / Text that I sent that you never ever read / Got me feelin' like you never ever ever really cared”. Again, Xan fails to see the reality because of the positive hormones his limbic system spreads through his body - this time caused by love.

Total Xanarchy isn’t as much about all too clever lyricism as it is about getting trap fans into a certain mood. For the most part, what it wants to do is entertain - and it does so all the way through. Whoever can find joy in wild adlibs, simplistic melodies and cool beats is right here - and Xan has the charisma and flow to sell it well. More isn’t needed for such music. Nevertheless, at parts, he also shows a much more vulnerable side, and goes deeper than an average brag rapper who just wants a good time. While he spreads a carefree attitude in most songs, he also knows that life has darker sides, and had made bad experiences as well.

The album’s length of approximately 40 minutes with 14 (or 16 in some editions) songs that clock in at an average of 2 and a half minutes each is just right for this premise. The songs are short enough to not feel repetitive, which could make the outcome tiring, but unlike other recent trap songs, they feel fully developed and not just like scraps. In a year where hip hop albums were either of the length of an EP or overlong double disc records, it’s also good that he settled for neither of the two extremes and made a CD that has an average album duration. Throughout this time, there’s enough variety to keep it refreshing and interesting, and most of the essential facets of trap have been played out.


An absolutely awful record. - DCfnaf

May I ask what you expect of the trap genre or where you think he should improve? - Martin_Canine

How about put effort into your production and performances? - DCfnaf

The beats are just perfect for trap. They are catchy and bass heavy.
But I see what you mean by performances, he doesn't use too many words and has a slow flow, but it fulfills the approach of catchiness. - Martin_Canine

NOTE: I now got the album on CD, and I need to state that on the physical copy Charli XCX has been removed from "Moonlight". Just for your information. - Martin_Canine

I personally think this is 1 of the worst albums of all time. The guy is a mixture of boring and obnoxious. The beats don't even suit the guy well and Lil Xan's verses are so contradictory. In 1 song, he's trying to convinced everyone to stop taking Xanax, which is a good message but in 1 song on the same album, he's mumbling the words, "I like xans, I like lean" The whole album just fell flat for me, I guess... - AlphaQ

I definitely rated it a bit too high. It's a 3 and a half star rating today. It's fine trap/cloud rap fodder that has both Lil Pump-ish adlibbing ("The Man") and XXXTentacion-ish angsty material ("Color Blind"). He's not as good as either, especially because unlike them he doesn't have much of a personality of his own. And you are right that it's overall messy and at parts, it's contradictory. I definitely had my fun with it though. I was very much entertained with its "mumble rap". But now I do see its flaws, but I think this isn't an album you should read that much into. - Martin_Canine