When Lil Nas X’s debut EP 7 dropped earlier this year, there was an understandable rush deep read and interpret the meanings and influences behind some of the rapper’s songs —tracks that seemed out of step with the “Old Town Road” aesthetic and energy that first made him global phenomenon. “Panini,” some thought, was an interpolation of Kurt Cobain’s “In Bloom.”
But for those of us who have an affinity for excellent cartoons, the first thing that came to mind after being introduced to “Panini” was Cartoon Network’s Chowder, a series about an aspiring chef who’s constantly trying to explain to his rabbit stalker/friend Panini that he’s not in love with her. While there wasn’t initially any indication that the song was a Chowder nod, the idea always seemed like a possibility given the artist’s penchant for incorporating elements of camp and whimsy into his art.
The first video for “Panini” (which was great) came, and went, telling a story about a futuristic man who refused to leave the object of his affection alone despite her rebuffs. That very well could have been it, but the artist has just dropped yet another video for a remix of the song featuring DaBaby, and the entire animated short is right out of Marzipan City.
What’s cool about the video is that it’s more or less just a retelling of the story from the original “Panini” video, but the story reads differently because of the dynamic that Chowder and Panini have always had. Here, Chowder (a parallel to Lil Nas X’s character in the original “Panini” video, there a holographic dancer moving from cyberpunk advert to advert as he chased the object of his desire) isn’t a man who can’t take no for an answer, he’s exactly the person that Panini wants — and her love grows that much more intense for him, as he does increasingly wild things to grab and keep her attention.
It turns “Panini” into the kind of song Panini herself would hum quietly as she concocted her latest plan to be close to Chowder, which is the kind of subtext you might not ever have expected to get from the man who brought us “Old Town Road.” But here we are, folks.
Lil Nas X took the popular music world by storm with “Old Town Road”, a trap country song that has dominated the charts this year. But I’m not here to talk about music. I'm here to talk about ReBoot.