After the country-trap artist’s debut hit ‘Old Town Road’ became an online sensation for weeks, it unexpectedly reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart Monday night.
Lil Nas X, the 20-year-old Atlanta native, is also known as Montero Lamar Hill. He released the single in Dec. 2018, and it took off in early 2019 following the viral “Yeehaw Challenge,” which took place on the video-sharing app, TikTok.
The inspiration for the tune came after Hill felt like he was running out of time. While living with his sister, he knew she was becoming fed up with him not paying rent and he didn’t want to attempt to move back into his parents home since he already disappointed them for dropping out of college.
“It started off as like a runaway loner cowboy kind of story,” he told Genius when explaining what the song is about, “I wanted it to be more of a triumphant kind of story.”
The hit ended up on the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Country Songs charts, but was short-lived on the Hot Country Songs chart after being removed from its spot at No. 19. According to a statement Billboard sent to the Rolling Stone, the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
“The song is a country trap. It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both. It should be on both,” he told TIME.
Famous country singer Billy Ray Cyrus made a tweet forming his opinion on the matter, and made a remix of the hit single with Hill last Friday. Other stars shared their viewpoints as well such as Justin Bieber, Tyga, and the Avengers cast.
“Our initial decision to remove ‘Old Town Road’ from the Hot Country Songs chart could be revisited as these factors evolve,” said Billboard in a statement they released to Rolling Stone the same day.
Becoming an internet personality on Twitter in 2015 and dropping out of college eight months ago, he became a singer after achieving an encouraging fan base. Now, he’s signed to Columbia Records and is rising to stardom.
Hill gives a lot of credit to TikTok because the song would have not gotten so popular without the app constantly advertising it, although it was really social media users who boosted its popularity.
“I literally had my dad paying my phone bill,” said Hill, “so like I gotta make something shake because I’m not going back to work.”
Although he’s not related to 45-year-old rapper Nas, he gets some inspiration from him considering one of his old Twitter handles, “NasMaraj,” is named after him and other rapper Nicki Minaj. His viral tweets helped raise him to fame.
Originating back to 1998, country-trap has evolved tremendously. Some fellow artists are Fly Rich Double, Lil Tracy, IDEFK, and DaBaby.
“There are so many artists coming up with so many resources, but that’s not phasing for what’s really gonna count,” said Hill. “Yeah you got this, but I got this right here.”