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Montero Lamar Hill (born April 9, 1999), known professionally as Lil Nas X, is an American rapper,[1] singer and songwriter. He came to international attention for his country rap breakout single "Old Town Road", which first achieved viral popularity on the video sharing app TikTok in early 2019.[2][3] The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100[4][5] and remained there for nineteen weeks,[6] beating the previous record of sixteen weeks since the chart started in 1958.[7] As of August 2019 it has streamed over a billion plays on Spotify alone.[8] His debut EP, 7, was released on June 21, 2019. His second single from 7, "Panini", remains in Rolling Stone's Top 100 top ten after debuting there July 3, 2019.[9]

Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X with a Bowser Jr. t-shirt his hands upraised
Lil Nas X in April 2019
Background information
Birth nameMontero Lamar Hill
Born (1999-04-09) April 9, 1999 (age 20)
Lithia Springs, Georgia, U.S.
Occupation(s)
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
InstrumentsVocals
Years active2018–present
LabelsColumbia
Websitelilnasx.com

In June 2019, Nas X came out as gay, the only artist at that point to have done so while having a number-one hit record.[10][11]

Contents

Early life and education

Montero Lamar Hill was born in Lithia Springs, Georgia,[12] a small city outside of Atlanta, on April 9, 1999.[13] His parents divorced when he was six,[8] and he settled in the Bankhead Courts housing project with his mother and grandmother. Three years later, he moved in with his father, a gospel singer,[8] north of the city in Austell, Georgia. Although initially reluctant to leave, he later regarded it as an important decision: "There's so much shit going on in Atlanta—if I would have stayed there, I would have fallen in with the wrong crowd."[14] He started “using the Internet heavily right around the time when memes started to become their own form of entertainment”; about when he was thirteen.[15]

He spent much of his teenage years alone, and turned to the Internet, “particularly Twitter, creating memes that showed his disarming wit and pop-culture savvy.”[8] He began playing trumpet in the fourth grade and was first chair by his junior high years, but quit out of fear of looking uncool.[citation needed]

He attended Lithia Springs High School and graduated in 2017.[16] He studied for one year at the University of West Georgia before dropping out. During this time, he stayed with his sister and supported himself with jobs at Zaxby's and Six Flags Over Georgia.[14]

Career

Internet personality (2015–2017)

Nas X said he began to isolate himself from "outside-of-class activities" during his teenage years. He spent large amounts of time online in hopes of building a following as an internet personality to promote his work, but was unsure what to focus on creatively. In a Rolling Stone interview he stated, "I was doing Facebook comedy videos, then I moved over to Instagram, and then I hopped on Twitter ... where I really was a master. That was the first place where I could go viral."[17] As of August 2019 he has 2.6 million Twitter followers.[8] He posted short-format comedy videos on Facebook and Vine,[14] and also created a Nicki Minaj fan account on Twitter called "NasMaraj", named after Minaj's actual surname of Maraj.[citation needed] In 2015, he became known for his viral tweets and other fan page, "FactsAboutNM".[citation needed] In 2017, his NasMaraj account gained attention for its flash fiction-style interactive "scenario threads" popularized on Twitter using dashboard app TweetDeck.[18][19][20] After media reports linked him to the account, he denied that he ran it.[21][22]

He then landed on music as a path to success; and started writing and recording songs in his closet.[8] Late October 2018, he ran across the music that would be “Old Town Road”.[8]

"Old Town Road" debut (2018)

On December 3, 2018, Hill released the country rap song "Old Town Road".[a] He bought the beat for the song anonymously on an online store from Dutch producer YoungKio for $30;[35] it samples Nine Inch Nails' track "34 Ghosts IV" from their sixth studio album Ghosts I–IV (2008).[36] Nas X began creating memes to promote "Old Town Road" before it was picked up by TikTok users.[13] He estimated he made about a hundred memes to promote it;[8] the song went viral in early 2019 due to the #Yeehaw Challenge meme on the social media app. Millions of users posted videos of themselves dressed as a wrangler or cowgirl, with most #yeehaw videos using the song for their soundtrack; as of July 2019, they have been seen more than 67 million times.[13] Another core audience tied to social media is children who are hidden in the statistics of adult listeners.[37] Quartz.com says the song certainly owes part of its success to the demographic, and notes they are attracted to the song being repetitive, easy to sing along to, and using lyrics about riding horses and tractors, which kids can relate to.[37]

Chart debut and genre controversy

It debuted at number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, later climbing to number one.[38] The track also debuted on the Hot Country Songs chart at number 19 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 36.[39] After an "intense bidding war", Nas X signed with Columbia Records in March 2019.[13] Billboard controversially removed the song from the Hot Country songs chart in March 2019 telling Rolling Stone:

“When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is a musical composition. While "Old Town Road" incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version.[40]

In Robert Christgau's opinion, "Taking 'Old Town Road' off the country chart strikes me as racist pure and simple, because country radio remains racist regardless of the Darius Ruckers and Kane Browns it makes room for."[41] Another Billboard spokesperson told Genius, "Billboard's decision to take the song off of the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist."[40] Despite being removed from the main Country Songs chart, the song charted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, debuting at 53,[42] and peaking at 50.[43] In response, Sony Music Nashville CEO Randy Goodman told Billboard that his team started testing the song in some country radio markets, adding "it would be negligent not to look at it".[42] In May 2019, the issues of racism in country music culture came up again when Wrangler announced its Lil Nas X collection, and some consumers threatened a boycott.[44] Media outlets also noted that the song brings attention to the historic cultural erasure of African-Americans from both country music and the American frontier era.[10][45][46][47]

Further success and 7 EP (2019–present)

Country music star Billy Ray Cyrus supported "Old Town Road",[48] and is the featured vocalist in an April 2019 remix, the first of several.[49][b] That same month, Nas X broke Drake's record for the most U.S. streams in one week with 143 million streams for the week ending April 11, surpassing Drake's "In My Feelings", which had 116.2 million streams in one week in July 2018;[54] as of August 2019 it has streamed over a billion plays on Spotify alone.[8] NBC News's Michael Arceneaux noted,

In the social media age, Lil Nas X is arguably the first micro-platform crossover star.[55]

In May 2019, the video for the original was released and as of July, has 200 million views.[51] Nas X released his debut EP, 7, on June 21, 2019.[56][57] The EP debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart.[58] On June 23, 2019, Nas X performed with Cyrus at the 2019 BET Awards.[59] On June 30, Nas X made his international debut at the largest greenfield festival in the world, the U.K.’s annual Glastonbury Festival, when he and Billy Ray Cyrus made a surprise appearance and joined Miley Cyrus for the song, before performing his new single "Panini" solo in a set seen nationally on BBC.[60] For end of June 2019 sales, Rolling Stone premiered the Rolling Stone Top 100 in early July with three Nas X hits: "Rodeo" featuring Cardi B at number nine; "Panini" at four; and "Old Town Road" as the first-ever number-one song on the chart.[61][c]

Nas X has been noted for his public fashions; in July 2019, Vogue noted Nas X as a "master" at giving the cowboy aesthetic a glam look in his appearances and on Instagram.[62] Wrangler, which is mentioned in the “Old Town Road” lyrics, has consistently sold out of Nas X co-branded fashions.[63] In July 2019, Time named him one of the 25 most influential people on the Internet for his "global impact on social media", and "overall ability to drive news".[64] In late July 2019, the MTV Video Music Award nominations were announced, with Nas X receiving eight.[65][d] He was nominated for five 2019 Teen Choice Awards, winning the fan-chosen pick for Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Song for the Cyrus remix of "Old Town Road".[66][67][e]

In early July 2019, "Old Town Road" achieved its 13th week at the top spot on the Billboard 100, becoming the first hip hop song to do so.[69][f] It is also the first song to sell ten million copies while in the top spot.[51][69] On its fifteenth week at the top, Nas X became the first openly gay artist to have a song last as long, beating out Elton John’s 1997 double A-side—where both sides of the record are promoted as hits, "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight".[11] At nineteen weeks at number one, Nas X holds the record for the most weeks since the chart was first introduced in 1958.[6][g] As of August 2019, the song has charted nineteen weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart;[6] beating a three-way tie record.[71][h] At nineteen weeks at the top of the Hot Rap Songs chart the song has also beaten a three-way tie.[6][i]

Personal life

In early June 2019, Nas X came out to his sister and father, he felt the universe was signaling him to do so despite his uncertainty whether his fans would stick by him.[8] On June 30, 2019, the last day of Pride Month, Nas X came out publicly as gay,[75][76] tweeting: "some of y'all already know, some of y'all don't care, some of y'all not gone fwm no more. but before this month ends i want y'all to listen closely to c7osure. 🌈🤩✨"[77] Rolling Stone noted the song "touches on themes such as coming clean, growing up and embracing one's self".[78] The next day he tweeted again, this time highlighting the rainbow-colored building on the cover art of his EP 7, with the caption reading "deadass thought i made it obvious".[79][80] He was unambiguous in an interview several days later on BBC Breakfast, where he stated that he was gay and understands that his sexuality is not readily accepted in the country or rap music communities.[81] The response to the news has been mostly positive, but also garnered a large amount of homophobic backlash on social media, to which Nas X also reacted.[80][82] The backlash also came from the hip hop community, drawing attention to homophobia in hip hop culture.[82][83]

Discography

Extended plays

List of extended plays, with selected details and chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions Sales
US
[84]
AUS
[85]
AUT
[86]
CAN
[87]
DEN
[88]
FRA
[89]
IRE
[90]
NZ
[91]
SWE
[92]
UK
[93]
7
  • Released: June 21, 2019
  • Label: Columbia
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming
2 5 72 1 9 15 11 5 10 23

Mixtapes

List of mixtapes, with selected details
Title Details
Nasarati
  • Released: July 24, 2018[94]
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Singles

As lead artist

Title Year Peak chart positions Sales Certifications Album
US
[95][96]
US
R&B
/HH

[97]
AUS
[98]
CAN
[99]
DEN
[100]
IRE
[101]
NOR
[102]
NZ
[103]
SWE
[104]
UK
[93]
"Old Town Road"
(solo or remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)
2018 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 7
"Panini" 2019 16 9 15 12 28
[110]
18 28 14
[111]
42 25

Other charted songs

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US
[96]
US RS
[112]
US Rock
[113]
AUS
[114]
CAN
[115]
IRE
[101]
NZ
Hot

[116]
UK
[93]
"F9mily (You & Me)"
(with Travis Barker)
2019 97 6 34 7
"Kick It" 33
"Rodeo"
(with Cardi B)
22 9 72 44 35 6 55
"Bring U Down"
(featuring Ryan Tedder)
7
"C7osure (You Like)" [j] 27

Guest appearances

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
TBA[118] 2019 XXXTentacion Bad Vibes Forever

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2019 Teen Choice Awards[119] Choice Male Artist Lil Nas X Nominated
Choice Breakout Artist Nominated
Choice Song: Male Artist "Old Town Road" Nominated
Choice Collaboration "Old Town Road (Remix)"
(featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)
Nominated
Choice R&B Hip-Hop Song Won
MTV Video Music Awards[120] Best New Artist Lil Nas X Pending
Video of the Year "Old Town Road (Remix)"
(featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)
Pending
Song of the Year Pending
Best Collaboration Pending
Best Hip-Hop Video Pending
Song of the Summer Pending
Best Direction Pending
Best Editing Pending
Best Art Direction Pending

Notes

  1. ^ "Old Town Road" has been variously described by publications as a country rap,[23][24][25][26] country,[27][28][29] trap,[30][31][32] or Southern hip hop song.[33] Nas X stated that he regards it as a "country trap" song.[34]
  2. ^ The single's second official remix, "Old Town Road (Diplo Remix)", was released on April 29, 2019 featuring additional production by American DJ Diplo.[50] Mid-July 2019, an official remix of “Old Town Road” was released adding rapper Young Thug, and yodeler Mason Ramsey, to Billy Ray Cyrus.[51] In late July 2019, another remix called "Seoul Town Road" was released featuring South Korean rapper RM of the boyband BTS.[52] Billboard counts all the versions of the song in the same total.[53]
  3. ^ The Rolling Stone Top 100 tracks “the most popular songs of the week in the United States”; ranked by combining streams and sales, omitting radio plays.[61]
  4. ^ His nominations were for “Old Town Road”: Song of the Year, Video of the Year, Best Collaboration, Best Hip Hop, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Art Direction. [65] He is also up for the Best New Artist trophy.[65] The awards ceremony takes place August 26, 2019.[65]
  5. ^ Nas X was nominated for both "Choice Male Artist", and "Choice Breakout Artist"; "Old Town Road" was up for "Choice Song: Male Artist"; while the remix with Billy Ray Cyrus was also up for "Choice Collaboration".[68]
  6. ^ It surpassed three hip hop songs that were tied at twelve weeks each: "Lose Yourself" by Eminem (2002), "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas (2009), and "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth (2015).[69] On its fourteenth week at the top, it was the tenth single to ever reach the mark, with Billboard noting all but two of the previous singles had been nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.[70]
  7. ^ Nas X beat two songs tied at sixteen weeks for the longest time to do so; "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and R&B group Boyz II Men (1995–6); and "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber (2017).
  8. ^ On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart: at nineteen weeks it beats the three songs at eighteen weeks:
  9. ^ Three songs were tied at eighteen weeks each: “Hot Boyz” by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott featuring Lil' Mo, Nas, Eve and Q-Tip (1999-2000); “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX (2014); and “Hotline Bling” by Drake (2015-16).[74]
  10. ^ "C7osure (You Like)" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, but peaked at number 14 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.[117]

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