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From TikTok to Billboard: how Lil Nas X’s life changed after the success of “Old Town Road” – the main hit of the year

The rapper not only kept himself at the height of the Billboard charts, but also broke records, changed his style and found time for a new release.

From TikTok to Billboard: how Lil Nas X’s life changed after the success of “Old Town Road” – the main hit of the year
Lil nas x  

On December 3, 2018, a little-known rapper from Atlanta, Lil Nas X (Montero Lamar Hill), released the country-rap track Old Town Road . In less than six months, the song became popular throughout the world and took a leading position in the charts. This was largely due to the parodies and challenges in social networks. The musician has reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, where for 14 weeks now he has not given way to anyone.

Who is Lil Nas X

A 20-year-old rapper from Atlanta, Montero Lamar Hill, from his teens hoped to become popular on the Internet, so he posted short videos on Facebook and Vine. He ran the fan pages of Niki Minaj, posted memes and joked successfully on Twitter. So the first fame came to him.

I always made memes, and now I have music.

Lil nas xrapper

On the way to world fame, Lil Nas X took about a year: he took up rap in the spring of 2018 and in the summer released the first Nasarati mixtape . He admitted that he recorded songs for an EP with different sounds in an attempt to gain a unique style. The artist named most of the tracks as traps – songs that few caught.

Then Lil Nas X released the track “Carry On” , which showed the rapper in a new light, but no more. Hill thought it would be a breakthrough, but the song was only a step towards a turning point in the artist’s work: the musician found himself in “Old Town Road”.

In the summer of 2018, Lil Nas X first heard the beat and guitar sample of the future hit. To this tune, the rapper presented a sad cowboy who is being tested. Hill recognized himself in him, and in the winter of that same year, the performer published Old Town Road – and since then has not left the charts.

The rapper fan gave Hill his portrait  @lilnasx

First in world trends

“Old Town Road” allowed the young artist to declare himself. The rapper is not just listening, but also actively discussing, it follows from Google Trends statistics. According to the service, in July 2019, users searched for “Lil Nas X” ten times more often than a year ago.

The top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts has long been owned by the rapper. Lil Nas X resisted and under the onslaught of big hits by Ed Shiran, Post Malone, Taylor Swift. He walked around and Billy Aylish, which until then returned three times to first place Billboard.

According to the Shazam application, “Old Town Road” is searched extremely often. The song came in eighth place in the top 200 service, its remix came out on the sixth position.

Shazam Top 200

Lil Nas X got into the list of 200 most “trendy” songs of 2019 according to YouTube. The rapper’s debut hit animated video appeared next to Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and Billy Aylish.

Lil Nas X broke the record for streaming auditions for the week – he was kept by Drake. Back in April, “Old Town Road” was listened to 143 million times, while the track “In My Feelings” was limited to 116 million auditions. Lil Nas X along with Cardie Bee became the artist, who led the main Billboard chart with the first single.

Inspired by the Red Dead Redemption 2 track of the American rapper came in first place on the Billboard after a challenge in TikTok 

Meme as a way to build a career

TikTok – the Chinese social network with short videos – became a super-successful launching pad for Lil Nas X. It was here that the hit “Old Town Road” became one of the main targets for memes, challenges and parodies for several months – and this is an extremely long time for this platform. Many stars and the majority of users published videos in cowboy costumes, and a little later they launched Challenge ( #yeehaw ), the essence of which was “transformed” into a cowboy with a rapper song.

Yeehaw Challenge Compilation in TikTok

Lil Nas X was confident that the track would become a meme and this would allow it to spread widely. The artist, before the release of the single, called him a symbol of success. In his blog, Hill stated that it was TikTok who changed the life of a rapper.

I promoted the song as a meme for several months, until it gained more than popularity on TikTok. I was well acquainted with TikTok: I always thought that the videos there would be ironic and funny. When I became a trend there, it was an incredible moment for me.

Lil nas xrapper, quote by Time

Specially or accidentally, but the release of “Old Town Road” was a good marketing ploy. Listeners connect the cowboy theme of the track with the frequent discussions about the culture of African American cowboys (black yeehaw agenda).

The performer made the next single remix on the same track. It was released in April 2019 and already contained a batch of country music star Billy Ray Cyrus – for him the ascent to the first line of the Billboard chart was also the first.


Lil Nas X – Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. 
Billy ray cyrus

Listeners have not left a novelty without their versions of the song. It seemed that covers did everything from professional musicians to schoolchildren. At the same time, not only rapper fans, but also famous artists worked on the hit upgrade.

Cover of the track “Old Town Road”, which scored more than 5 million views on YouTube

Cover for the “Old Town Road Remix” recorded third-grade students of an American school

One of the listeners also presented to the audience his cover of the song, where he replaced all the instrumental sounds with the sounds of horses

Life after “Old Town Road”

From hidden privacy to coming out

On the last day of June – the month of the “pride” of the LGBT community – Lil Nas X in a series of tweets suggested several times to listen to his debut EP “7” . The rapper hinted that he encrypted something important for himself in the track “C7osure”.

Some of you already know, some people don’t care, and some will stop listening to my music, but I want you to listen to C7osure carefully until the end of the month of pride.

Lil nas xrapper, quote by gq

In the track, Lil Nas X says that he is tired of pretending and needs to open up so as not to regret it in his old age. Also, the rapper draws attention to one of the skyscrapers on the cover of EP, which is painted in the colors of the rainbow.


The news of Lil Nas X was picked up by the world’s main media – a situation in which a public person openly admits of sexual orientation is still rare. On BBC, the rapper confirmed that he was gay. Lil Nas X is confident that with his open statement of orientation, he opens the door to a large number of people.

The rapper ‘s cunning-out caused a mixed reaction: stars like Miley Cyrus supported Hill, and in social networks some praised him for his bravery, while others perceived recognition with criticism.

From five dollars in your pocket to millions in the account

At some point, before the popularity of the song, Hill had about five dollars left in his account. Only one track brought the 20-year-old rapper millions and worldwide fame, although the artist himself admits that he did not immediately understand it.

I told myself when I was little that I didn’t want to be just a normal person. I wanted to be unforgettable. I wanted to do something good that will always be remembered. This is my first dream. And the second goal is to just have a hobby and earn money on it in order to live thanks to it. I didn’t even want to be rich. I just wanted to make music and survive. Both that, and another was carried out substantially.

Lil nas xrapper

In a remix of “Old Town Road”, Billy Ray Cyrus sings about driving through the city on Maserati – and in the video he sits with Lil Nas X in such a red sports car. Hill soon thanked the country singer for his support and participation in the track, giving the red Maserati.


From empty halls to world tours

A year ago, a young rapper from Atlanta was unknown, and now the concert schedule of Lil Nas X is full. Earlier, the artist practically did not participate in any festivals, now the rapper along with Cyrus won one of the largest awards, BET Awards 2019. The media seriously talk about the chances of winning the track “Old Town Road” on the Grammy performer “,” The best performance of the pop duo “and” Breakthrough of the Year. “

Lil Nas X s performance with Billy Ray Cyrus at the BET Awards 2019 ceremony. Musicians turned the stage into an American bar with the help of decorations

Now rappers are often invited to country festivals, awards and ceremonies to perform a single song – “Old Town Road”. Judging by the recordings from the concerts, each performance of Lil Nas X suggests that he feels like a rock star. He doesn’t even need to perform his hit, because the crowd always does it for him.


From ripped jeans to cowboy

In one of the very first photos on Instagram, Lil Nas X is wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt. But after “Old Town Road”, the rapper has built his style from scratch and is now in the image of a cowboy, it seems, not only at concerts, but also in life.


Hill moved away from the typical rapper clothes and began to dress like a real cowboy: vests, hats, sheriff’s star, shawls, denim jackets, loose checked shirts and boots became irreplaceable attributes of the rapper. At the same time, Lil Nas X launched a cowboy clothing line.

From suspense to joint songs with world artists

An unknown rapper from Atlanta, who dropped out of school for the sake of music, is now recording joint tracks with world-class musicians. On his new mini-album “7” a song was released with Grammy Award-winning Cardi B.

Cardi B and Lil Nas X with another cowboy song “Rodeo” at the Summer Jam festival

The album has a track with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Another song Lil Nas X made with singer One Republic and Grammy Award winner Ryan Tedder.

Track featuring Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker

From mixtape to the first major release that didn’t live up to expectations.

The debut mini-album Lil Nas X “7” was released June 21, 2019. The rapper did not move far from his style, which brought him success, and mixed country music with rock music.

Each song on the new EP deserves separate attention, so I don’t want my music to be listened to in the background.

Lil nas xrapper

The album received many mixed opinions from music critics. For example, one of the authors of the magazine Rolling Stone reacted ambiguously to the album: he praised the EP for the fine line between seriousness and fun, but he still didn’t understand who and what the artist wants to be. The Los Angeles Times newspaper called him one of the best debuts of the year, and the songs are “memorable, funny and bright” for a long time. According to the author of Slate , Lil Nas X tried to make a hit from each track on the release, but the rapper was not surprised at all. Entertainment Weekly criticized him for the inconclusiveness of the tracks and called them “half-thought.” Pitchfork also rated the release extremely low – at 4.3 out of 10.

For the entire mixtape “7,” it is unclear whether Lil Nas X really loves music. The EP eventually becomes a collection of weak content, created just to justify its existence.Alphonse PierdalPitchfork

How long the success of Lil Nas X will be fixed and whether it will still have a second track, at least comparable in popularity, is not yet clear. But “Old Town Road” still does not give up leadership in the charts. The life of a 20-year-old boy has changed radically thanks to TikTok, and has given him millions of dollars and worldwide popularity. Despite the release of the new release, so far all the same, many users give their preference to “Old Town Road”. Lil Nas X allegedly does not pay attention to criticism, until the last time he exploits the cowboy image and publishes videos similar to each other from his speeches.

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