Lil Nas X in Old Town Road official movie featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

Lil Nas X in "Old Town Road" official movie featuring Billy Ray Cyrus

Lil Nas X Blazes Country Music with Hit Collaboration

Leave it up to Atlanta's Lil Nas X to disrupt the charts with a hit remix and unusual country music collaboration. In summer 2019, "Old Town Road" was the No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot 100 list for nearly 20 weeks running. It smashed the previous record by becoming the only 17-week No. 1 in the list's history. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X signed to Columbia House and released his EP, "7," which debuted as No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

Lil Nas also inked a six-figure deal with Wrangler, the western wear brand that he famously name-checks in "Old Town Road," dropped a second remix of his hit song featuring Young Thug and Mason Ramsey (another internet-created star who went viral after video of him yodeling in a WalMart blew up), and used his popular Twitter account to come out as gay on the last day of Pride month, then jumped right back into his regularly scheduled savvy, snarky content saddle without so much as a flinch. As architect of what surely will be remembered as one of the biggest commercial successes of the decade, Lil Nas X is flying high, adding another notch to Georgia music’s game-changing music holster.

"When you see a black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly," comedian Chris Rock reverently exclaims during his cameo appearance in the first few seconds of Lil Nas X’s video for his viral country-trap hit "Old Town Road." Without a doubt, Lil Nas is flying. Born Montero Hill, the 20-year-old Atlanta native worked at Zaxby’s and Six Flags, dropped out of college, and wound up broke and sleeping on his sister’s couch while working to carve out an internet identity that would help him get famous someday.

As anybody with a pair of ears knows, Lil Nas's plan was a success – an internet savant with a laser-focused eye on the zeitgeist, he crafted his song "Old Town Road" with online culture in mind, from the just-shy-of-two-minutes length to the inclusion of funny lines that could be repurposed as memes or captions for pics. The song blew up on the video sharing app TikTok, where it was used to soundtrack videos of goofily dancing teens clad in western wear, and wound up debuting at No. 19 on Billboard’s country charts.

Here's where the story gains traction: Billboard removed the song in March, citing the fact that it didn't embrace enough elements of today's country. Controversy ensued, so amid the stir, Lil Nas X released a remix of the song, featuring a surprisingly hot appearance from country legend Billy Ray Cyrus, who had reached out to Lil Nas over Twitter to show his support. The pair performed the song together at June's BET awards, where they sauntered to the stage on horseback, decked out in kitschy cowboy gear . . . and the rest is chart-topping history.

Published: August 2019