With a career spanning just under five years, Montero Lamar Hill, more commonly known as Lil Nas X, has sent shockwaves through the musical world. Racking up 89 award nominations and 22 wins, Lil Nas X has quickly risen to the top as one of the most recognizable artists of his generation.
However, there’s still one question that no one can quite answer: where did he come from?
It all started in 2018 with a simple line about a horse. From the moment “Old Town Road” began production, Lil Nas X started making memes to promote the song. Those memes, paired with his history of internet comedy, skyrocketed his success as the song grew in popularity on platforms, such as TikTok, that welcomed it with open arms.
Following the immediate success of “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X released a remixed version with actor and country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus. The song was remixed again, keeping Cyrus and adding Diplo, and then was remixed again with Cyrus and added rapper Young Thug and “Walmart yodeling kid,” Mason Ramsey. There were other remixes as well, including one with CupcakKe and another with Lil Wayne.
Shortly after Lil Nas X’s song became a global sensation in 2019, Lil Nas X released the single “Panini” ahead of his first EP, 7. The song and music video were something unlike anything audiences had experienced before. A unique style that has carried into his current-day video productions, “Panini” built a brand for Lil Nas X that was entirely different from other artists.
“Panini” built on the success brought by “Old Town Road,” and “Rodeo” continued that success, having fans hooked and wanting more. His 7 EP, which released in June 2019, coincided with his being more open about his sexuality. As a gay man, Lil Nas X has said in interviews how difficult it is to be open about his sexuality in the rap industry but credits artists Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator for inspiring him to live his life authentically.
In March 2021, “Old Town Road” became the most-streamed song of all time in the U.S., clocking in around 2.9 billion on-demand listens, according to Chart Data. The original “Old Town Road” became 15-time platinum-certified — the first song ever to do so — in September. The remix with Cyrus achieved 10-time platinum status.
On Aug. 31, fans rejoiced when Lil Nas X announced his debut album, consisting of 15 tracks and featuring five different artists, would arrive on streaming platforms Sept. 17. While Lil Nas X had made it clear he was working on an album, a series of controversies throughout 2021 had diverted the public’s gaze. “Satan shoes” containing real human blood and a Nike lawsuit weighed heavily on his image. Rather than falling to the scrutiny, Lil Nas X leaned into it and released “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” one of his biggest hits yet.
Despite those controversies, Lil Nas X released “Montero”, his eponymous record, and wowed fans. Ahead of the album, Lil Nas X released “Industry Baby” and “Sun Goes Down.” Along with the album’s full release, Lil Nas X released a music video to correspond with every track, further solidifying his creativity and outlandish ideas.
Despite the four-year span of success, Lil Nas X has never been featured on another artist’s song. However, he’s featured many on his own. Aside from Cyrus, Young Thug and the “Old Town Road” remixes, Lil Nas X has worked with Cardi B, Jack Harlow, Doja Cat, Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus, to name a few.
Lil Nas X’s career is ever-growing, and his fans can’t wait to see what he does next.