One week ago, the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) took place in Newark, New Jersey on August 26, 2019, at the Prudential Center. This was the 36th annual ceremony and front-runners Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish all won three awards each. While Taylor Swift won the Video of the Year for “You Need to Calm Down”and Ariana Grande won the Artist of the Year, a newcomer by the name of Lil Nas X took home the awards for the Song of the Year and Best Direction for “Old Town Road (Remix)”. People were not as familiar with Lil Nas X until his music became a hit over the past several months. So who exactly is this newcomer artist who flashes his smile while wearing grillz at red carpet events?
Lil Nas X was born on April 9, 1999 by the name of Montero Lamar Hill in Lithia Springs, Georgia. He lived with his parents until they divorced when he was six years old, and after his parents’ divorce, he stayed with his mother and grandmother at a housing project. However, three years later, he decided to leave his mother and grandmother and moved in with his father. His reason for leaving his mother and grandmother was because he believed that the area they stayed in would have had a bad influence on him due to all of the negative activity surrounding the area. So, he made the decision to move in with his father to a city north of Austell, Georgia. During his teenage years, he dedicated much of his time to the Internet, as with many other teenagers around his age. He also attended Lithia Springs High School and graduated with the class of 2017 and began his post-secondary school at the University of West Georgia but dropped out after his freshman year. Upon dropping out, he lived with his sister and worked part-time jobs such as Zaxby’s and Six Flags Over Georgia to support himself financially.
Up until he dropped out of college, instead of spending time with other peers, he was constantly on different social media platforms trying to create memes and become an internet personality to promote his work. He started by creating Facebook comedy videos, then switched over to Instagram, then went to Twitter, which he excelled at. He also created fan accounts for Nicki Minaj on Twitter called “NasMaraj” and “FactsAboutNM.” Then in late October 2018, he switched gears to the music industry by writing and recording his own songs in his closet, and on December 3, 2018, he released the hit song that is known today as “Old Town Road”.
Lil Nas X created about one hundred memes to promote “Old Town Road” before users on TikTok found it. In early 2019 during the #Yeehaw Challenge meme, the song went viral and millions of users used the song as their soundtrack and posted themselves dressed as a cowboy or cowgirl. The song was also picked up quickly by children because the lyrics are repetitive and easy to sing along to, while referencing horses and tractors, both subjects that are relatable to children. In the beginning, the song charted at number 83 on the BillBoard Hot 100 chart, but eventually turned to number one. It also charted at number 19 on the Hot Country Songs and at number 36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. However, the song was removed from the Hot Country Songs chart due to a clash in genre, stating that it was not embrace enough country music.
In March 2019, Lil Nas X officially signed with Columbia Records after being highly sought after through multiple record companies. A month after he signed, Lil Nas X created a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus and released it in April 2019. Within the same month, Nas X broke the record for the most U.S. streams in one week with 143 million streams for the second week of April, which surpassed Drake’s records of 116.2 million for “In My Feelings”, in July 2018. As of August 2019, “Old Town Road” has been streamed over one billion times on Spotify alone. In May 2019, the music video was released and as of last month, the video has over 370 million views. On June 21, 2019, Nas X released his debut EP, 7, and it became number two on the Billboard 200 chart. Two days later, he performed with Billy Ray Cyrus at the 2019 BET Awards, and on June 30, he made his international debut at the U.K.’s annual Glastonbury Festival. There, he made a surprise appearance on stage with Miley Cyrus and performed “Panini”, his newest single. He also came out as gay. He has also been applauded for his public fashion. Nas X appeared on the front cover of Teen Vogue’s June issue, sporting a smile and revealing his gold teeth.
In late July 2019, Nas X received eight nominations for the 2019 MTV VMA’s. He is the first LGBTQ person ever to win the Best Song of the Year Award. In addition, he was nominated for five fan-chosen 2019 Teen Choice Awards and won the Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Song for “Old Town Road (Remix)”. “Old Town Road” also became Youtube’s top song of the summer in the U.S. and over fifty other countries worldwide. The duo, Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, were nominated for the Country Music Association Awards collaboration category, CMA Music Event of the Year, and Nas X is the first out gay man to ever be nominated for the award.
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” has been, and is continuing to dominate the Billboard 100 chart as number one for a record of nineteen weeks straight. Over a year ago, the world did not know about this young artist, but now, he is internationally known. His hard work and dedication has contributed to his success in becoming a star, and he also looks good doing it with gold grillz.