Lil Nas X. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

YouTube video

b. April 9, 1999

“I 100% want to represent the LGBT community.”

Montero Hill, known as Lil Nas X, is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and social media sensation. A trailblazer in the Hip-Hop community as a gay rapper who speaks freely about his sexuality, Nas X entered the international spotlight with his single “Old Town Road.”

Nas X was born outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His father is a Gospel singer. His parents divorced when he was 6, and he spent much of his childhood living in housing projects.

As a youth struggling with his sexual orientation, Nas X spent most of his time alone. At age 13, he turned to social media and experimenting with memes. He eventually carved a niche for himself as an internet personality, working to create catchy content he hoped would go viral. He began with short Facebook videos and finally found success on Twitter, where he accumulated more than four million followers. He amassed nine million followers on YouTube. As his songwriting progressed, he adopted his stage name as an homage to the rapper Nas.

In December 2018, Nas X bought beats online and recorded the Country rap song “Old Town Road.” He promoted the song on social media with hundreds of memes and with a musical “challenge” on the video-sharing app TikTok. Popular with all kinds of listeners, the song rapidly jumped to the radio, then to the Billboard charts.

With its unique blend of Country and Hip-Hop, “Old Town Road” provoked controversy about its place on the Country music charts. Nas X and the Country star Billy Ray Cyrus subsequently recorded a remix. Released in April 2019, the single shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for 19 weeks — longer than any song in history. It went 10 times platinum. Only 34 songs have ever achieved that status.

In June 2019, Nas X released “7,” his debut EP on Columbia Records. The seven-track recording features “Old Town Road” and the single “Panini,” which peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100. Nine days after the EP’s release, Nas X came out as gay on Twitter. He is the first artist to do so with a No. 1 hit currently on the charts.

Nas X was nominated for six Grammy Awards in 2020. He won two for “Old Town Road” and also became the first LGBT artist to win a Country Music Association (CMA) Award. He was named to the TIME 100 Next list and the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

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