Sign up below to be added to our mailing list for the latest news updates, access to exclusive contests, and more!
Born Montero Lamar Hill, he issued the 2018 mixtape Nasarati before releasing "Old Town Road" at the end of the year. The track went viral on social media and, once it broke into the mainstream, it accumulated millions of plays on streaming services. Sampling Nine Inch Nails' instrumental "34 Ghosts IV," "Old Town Road" clocked in at just under two minutes but managed to climb into the Top 15 of the Hot 100. While the song could also have topped the Hot Country Songs chart, Billboard made the decision to remove it from the running for not containing enough country music elements. The controversy only helped boost plays, and "Old Town Road" continued its climb up the main chart. In March 2019, Lil Nas X signed with Columbia, just as "Old Town Road" continued to climb the charts and dominate radio airplay, riding a Billy Ray Cyrus remix toward number one in markets from Australia to Germany to Norway -- and a record-breaking 19 weeks in the U.S. (plus a diamond certification).
In June 2019, his eight-track collection 7 was released. The eclectic EP included both versions of "Old Town Road" and newer material that ranged from mainstream rap and pop styles to takes on alternative hard rock. The song "Rodeo" included a cameo from Cardi B, while second single "Panini" became a Top Five hit with the help of rapper DaBaby. To cap his banner year, Lil Nas X was nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for "Old Town Road," Album of the Year for 7, and Best New Artist. He went on to win a pair of trophies for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video. Later that year, he released his first seasonal track, the Christmas-themed "Holiday."
Lil Nas X returned in 2021 with the culture-shifting "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," which found him fully embracing his status as a queer icon and boundary-pushing artist. Within a month of release, the bold anthem topped the charts in at least 20 countries and was certified multi-platinum in Australia and the U.S. He soon followed with another conversation starter, "Industry Baby," which featured rapper Jack Harlow and production by Kanye West and Take a Daytrip. Like "Montero" before it, "Industry Baby" was promoted with a music video that soon went viral, helping boost funds raised for The Bail Project. That September, Lil Nas X released his official full-length debut, Montero, which featured guests Doja Cat ("Scoop"), Elton John ("One of Me"), Megan Thee Stallion ("Dolla Sign Slime"), and Miley Cyrus ("Am I Dreaming").
Despite his popularity, Lil Nas X received no nominations for the 2022 BET Awards (during the previous year's ceremony, he had concluded his performance by kissing a male background dancer). Attributing the shutout to homophobia within the Black community, he responded with "Late to da Party" (featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again), the first single from his second album. ~ Neil Z. Yeung