Lil Xan’s singsong flow, for all its perceived faults and flaws, is the thing that sets him apart in a seemingly endlessly sea of same-sounding Soundcloud rappers, and it’s the driving force of his debut album, Total Xanarchy. While his troll-like demeanor has certainly rubbed many the wrong way, with Total Xanarchy, the Redlands, CA rapper born Diego Leanos declares his intention of being taken seriously as a real rapper, even if his execution is still a little lopsided.
The biggest issue here is the inconsistency between the messaging in the choruses, which are thoroughly catchy and often contradictory to his stage name, with the sort of generic subject matter of his rapped verses. While I wasn’t expecting any lyrical miracles from the “Betrayed” rapper, he does step up a bit in terms of his rhyme construction without actually making a commiserate jump in content.
For instance, on the above-mentioned lead single, “Betrayed” — incidentally, the song that initially put him on the mainstream radar after it took Soundcloud by storm — the hook warns of the dangers of the prescription drug when taken recreationally. However, the verses are Stunting 101 for young rappers who have a tendency to ape their more established faves while casting about for their own identity.
This happens to Xan a number of times on Total Xanarchy. A prime example is on the otherwise enjoyable Rae Sremmurd-featuring “Shine Hard.” Over a crystalline synth lead with requisite bellowing 808s, Xan and the brothers Sremm hit cruise control early, gliding through a standard flexing track that may yet become a club staple with the right label push. However, he’s pretty nearly indistinguishable from Swae Lee in terms of cadence and delivery, making him sound like a guest on his own song.