Lil Nas X

  • Rapper born Montero Lamar Hill in 1999, from Atlanta Georgia.
  • Why am I writing about a rapper who has released only a few singles, and was an obscure artist releasing music on social media in 2018? Because Lil Nas X broke perhaps the highest profile record in all of music – most consecutive weeks with the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • At 15 years old, Hill spent his free time online, hoping to be an internet personality. He posted some comedy videos and started a Nicki Minaj fan account. By 2018, he had a mixtape ready, and he self-released it that summer, using the name Lil Nas X – he just liked “Nas”, and “Lil” was added since many rappers before him had added “Lil” to their moniker. The “X” was added by Hill when he started getting serious about rapping, hoping he would become legendary in 10 years.
  • Later in 2018, he wrote the lyrics to Old Town Road – about a hard living, womanizing cowboy who rides his horse down the old town road. Shopping online to find a beat that would fit well with the lyrics, he purchased the beat from Dutch music producer YoungKio for $30 – the beat covers a Nine Inch Nails instrumental song from 2008 called 34 Ghosts IV. Influenced by country rap music, Lil Nas X completed the song with a country feel, using a banjo, bass and electronic drums throughout the song. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails earned co-writer credit for Old Town Road, along with YoungKio.
  • Nas X released Old Town Road in December 2018 – at the time, an internet meme called “the Yeehaw Agenda” was going viral. The Yeehaw Agenda combined cowboy fashion and culture, and when the video sharing service TikTok put out the Yeehaw Challenge, site users made short videos of themselves in cowboy attire, accompanied by Old Town Road in the background. Popularity for the song exploded.
  • By March 2019, the song charted on the Billboard 100, Hot Country Songs Chart and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart at the same time – a very rare feat. Soon after, Billboard removed it from the Country Chart, saying that it was “not country enough.” The controversy that followewd only increased the song’s popularity.
  • In early April, it reached #1 on the Billboard 100. The following week, a remix of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was released. In a single week, the 2 versions of the song were streamed 143 million times, shattering the old record of 116 million for weekly streams of a song. The song stayed at #1 on the Billboard 100 for 19 consecutive weeks through the mid August, breaking the old record of 16 consecutive weeks, held by Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men for One Sweet Day in 1995/1996, and by Luis Fonsi/Daddy Yankee/Justin Bieber for Despacito in 2017. The song peaked at #1 in 18 countries.
  • Lil Nas X released an EP titled in June 2019. In addition to the original version of Old Town Road and the Billy Ray Cyrus remix version, it contains 6 other songs. Panini (with Kurt Cobain from Nirvana listed as a co-writer – though I’ve listened to both, and I don’t hear any In Bloom in Panini, and Lil Nas X claimed to have never heard the Nirvana song before writing Panini) peaked at #16, and Rodeo (with Cardi B) reaching #22 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Lil Nas X earned 5 Grammy nominations for the 2020 ceremony with his debut effort, winning for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and the Video for Old Town Road won the Grammy for Best Video. I guess he will become legendary in much less than 10 years of rapping! Here’s the hilarious video (with Billy Ray Cyrus) to the record setting, catchiest song of the year!

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