Lil Nas X Covers TIME Magazine
To say that the Summer belonged to Lil Nas X is an understatement. At just 20 years old, the Georgia rapper went from a unknown Twitter troll, to an extremely well known troll, whose song “Old Town Road” dethroned Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men as the longest-running No. 1 song in history. Now you can’t go anywhere without seeing his face, or hearing that song and it’s many remixes.
When @lilnasx’s debut single “Old Town Road” exploded online early this year and began climbing the charts, industry prognosticators anticipated a quick rise and fall. It’s now the longest-running No. 1 song in history, having occupied the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 19 weeks. It’s been streamed more than a billion times on @spotify alone. All of this has made “Old Town Road” the defining sound of the year, a slurry, genre-busting interpolation of two quintessential American musical genres: #country and hip-hop. Yet even from his perch, writes Andrew R. Chow, Lil Nas is still an outlier. There aren’t many black stars in country #music; there aren’t many queer stars in #hiphop. There aren’t many queer black stars in American culture, point-blank. The fact that Lil Nas has risen so far and so fast testifies not only to his skill, but also to the erosion of the systems that for generations kept #artists like him on the sidelines. At a time when debates about categorization and identity are ubiquitous, Lil Nas X represents a more unified vision of the future, one in which a young #queer black man can dominate popular #culture by being unapologetically himself. “Everything lined up for this moment to take me to this place,” he says now. “Not to sound self-centered, but it feels like I’m chosen, in a way, to do this stuff.” Read more at the link in bio. Photograph by @kelianne for TIME; animation by @brobeldesign; “Old Town Road” (p) 2019 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
When @lilnasx recorded “Old Town Road” last fall, he was hoping it could be his way out of an unhappy life. Born Montero Lamar Hill outside #Atlanta in 1999, Lil Nas grew up poor, living with one parent or another—his mother and father split when he was 6. As he spent most of his teenage years alone, he began to live on the Internet and particularly Twitter, creating #memes that showed his disarming wit and pop-culture savvy. “It was like, I’m able to go viral, but I’m not promoting anything that’s gonna help me,” he says. “Until music came along.” A gifted vocalist since he was a child—his father is a gospel singer—Lil Nas began writing and recording songs in his closet. When, around last Halloween, he stumbled across a banjo-driven beat by the teenage Dutch producer @youngkio, he saw an opportunity to combine trap—a Southern-born #hiphop subgenre propelled by vicious bass and crawling tempos—with #country, which was experiencing a surge of popularity on the Internet. “Because it’s two polar opposites coming together, it’s funny no matter what it is,” he says. For the history of #music, artists like Lil Nas were the exception, writes Andrew R. Chow. Now, by definition, Lil Nas is the rule. Read more at the link in bio. Video by @khomariflashfilms and @alexandra_robson for TIME
The young artist added that he was taught from a young age that homosexuality “is never going to be OK,” plus, he feared he might lose fans if he shared his truth. But quite the contrary, Lil Nas. His popularity has skyrocketed over the last few month, which is proof that authenticity ultimately wins.