From meme to global pop star: the five appearances of Lil Nas X.

In 2018, 19-year-old Montero Lamar Hill was still sleeping on the floor at his sister’s house after giving up computer science.

A year later, as Lil Nas X, he broke the music record for most weeks at number one on the US Billboard chart. His single ‘Old Town Road’ in 2019 was a mixture of hip-hop and country music. The success was unique, because, like Time magazine He wrote that year in a cover story about the American rapper: “There aren’t many black stars in the country and there aren’t many Like me Stars in hip-hop.

Next Tuesday, Lil Nas X will perform at the all-selling AFAS Live in Amsterdam, the first outdoor stop on his first world tour, with which he will also visit Brussels a week later.

Who is this man who, after so successful, has managed to dodge a single wonder, win an important Grammy and can count on 42 million listeners per month on Spotify? About the five forms of Lil Nas X.

1. Amen Mimi

Montero Hill was born in 1999 in the small town of Lithia Springs, in the southern state of Georgia. His parents divorced when he was six, after which he lived with his mother and grandmother for three years in a social residential neighborhood in Atlanta surrounded by shops and industrial complexes. When he was nine years old he moved to live with his father, a gospel singer by profession. That new environment was very different: Hill ended up in a quiet suburb. He learned to play the trumpet and got good grades in school. As a teenager, he said, he “was just online all the time.” rolling rock. “I thought I knew who I was.”

On Twitter, he wasn’t alone: ​​Hill gained hundreds of thousands of followers by sharing funny photos, videos, and witty comments, mostly about pop culture.

During the summer vacation after his first year of school, he performed his first song, Actually Out of Boredom. He was always a fan of hip-hop artists like Drake and Kid Cody, and he loved writing, but he didn’t necessarily dream of a musician’s career. In fact, the lyrics and melody of his first song came naturally. Putting it online, he called it a “disgrace,” and to his surprise the feedback was positive. Hill decided to use his internet knowledge to promote his music and dropped out of college. Lil Nas X was born.

still oozing tweet at him He has eight million followers. Often they are sarcastic jokes, remarks he makes mocking of himself, or he responds to current events. In response to climate activists throwing soup at the plates, he posted a photo of himself throwing Van Gogh sunflowers into Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Soup Cans,” captioning it “I will avenge you, Mr. Van Gogh.” The tweet has received more than 980,000 likes.

2. beat maker

His sensitive internet instinct gave him the idea for “Old Town Road” – the song he hacked. danger to him”country trapVideos, which combined hip-hop rhythms with country stereotypes, became more and more popular. He found a rhythm with a banjo sound online and bought it from the producer for $30. Lil Nas X wrote a dry humorous script full of country cliches:My life is a movie and bulls and boobies and hat boobies / Gucci cowboy hat, Wrangler on my booty. ”

He shared the song endlessly on Twitter with cowboy and horse memes, and it’s becoming increasingly popular on TikTok as well. The Old City Road got more and more flows and was even starting to enter the charts.

Then came a setback, which turned out to be a blessing later: Billboard removed the song from the state chart, as it would contain very few elements of the genre. This sparked a broader discussion about racism and exclusion in the country, the kind dominated by explicit white performers – not black gay performers like Nas.

Amid the uproar, Nas came on country star Billy Ray Cyrus’ radar. The singer, known for his 1992 song “Achy Breaky Heart,” heard that Lil Nas X wanted to work with him and recorded a new house remix from “Old Town Road.” This release shot straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the chart for most hit songs across all genres.

It was number one for nineteen weeks. In doing so, Nas beat previous record holders Mariah Carey and the Boys’ Second Boys with One Sweet Day (1995) and Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber with Despacito (2017) – both 16 weeks. In 2022, no one has broken Lil Nas X’s record yet.

Read also: How Purmerend’s Hip-Hop Rhythms Became the Foundation of Global Success

3. provocateur

A funny kick isn’t usually the key to long-term success: who knows how the ladies of Las Ketchup do? How many hits did Höllenboer #1 get after “The van is coming soon”? Lil Nas X knew he had to stay relevant, and the mix of humor and buzz turned out to be the right recipe. He announced his first album with a photoshoot for People Magazine: He wears angelic white, with flowers in her hair and a hand on his large, “pregnant” belly. He joked that this album was his “baby”. His opponents said the pursuit of attention. And they were right, the attention was exactly what Lil Nas X was after.

Criticism increased when he released the song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”. The song is about not wanting to hide a gay relationship. The release was accompanied by a note to his 14-year-old self, in which Nas explained that it was important to be open about your sexuality despite the criticism. In the accompanying video, Nas descends on a meter-long pole into Hell, where the Devil (played by himself) is treated to a lap dance. A direct reference to the conservative Christian idea that all gays go to hell. Those conservatives weren’t happy at all when Lil Nas X announced “Promotion of the song.”Devil’s shoesAnnouncing the exclusive Nike shoes with a five-pointed star and a drop of human blood in the sole. In the end, no one was wearing the shoes: Nike stopped that with a trademark infringement lawsuit. The hype was no less. The Republican governor of South Dakota spoke on Twitter of “fighting for the soul of our country.” Forbes described it as a “culture war”. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” became Nas’ second hit single.

4. album artist

That it’s more than just a meme, Lil Nas X had to prove with his debut album. Montero It was released in September 2021. “Old Town Road” is not on it; Actually not a single song that you can call a joke. The hit mix of hip-hop and country music couldn’t be found on the album anyway. With his debut album, Lil Nas X put aside his breakthrough formula and chose catchy pop songs and outspoken poems. The album was well received by the international music press. Norwegian Refugee Council Gave four balls.

With the international tour in 2021 still difficult due to Corona, Nas once again came up with an innovative way to promote his music: at Paradiso in Amsterdam, fans can participate in the Lil Nas Xperience. The pop hall is decorated in his style, a mixture of sugary and hard candy: pink shiny clouds, but also pole dancers. Dollar bills with a oozing face flew across the room. He wasn’t there himself, but he felt like a small glimpse into his world of luxurious clothes.

5. world star

Next Tuesday, November 8, Lil Nas X will begin his first overseas tour in Amsterdam. The Long Live Montero Tour has already visited major cities in America in the fall, and will now visit major European cities. In January he plays in Sydney.

What can Dutch fans expect from his show? In the program brochure that greets visitors upon their arrival, Lil Nas X calls his concert a “play.” It is a type of music in three acts, starting from his youth, passing through the search for his identity, and reaching the present, where he embraces who he is. American media reported a great show with big sets, multiple costume changes and boxes full of sweets. over the top So, basically like everything Lil Nas X does.

Read also: Lil Nas X gets on the dance floor and moves the napkins (●●●●)

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