Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X
Mason Crest MIAMI
Mason Crest PO Box 221876, Hollywood, FL 33022 (866) MCP-BOOK (toll-free) www.masoncrest.com
Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher.
First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4687-0 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4683-2 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7133-9
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Bach, Greg, author. Title: Lil Nas X / Greg Bach. Description: Hollywood, FL : Mason Crest, 2023. | Series: Pop music stars | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2022002794 | ISBN 9781422246870 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422271339 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Lil Nas X, 1999—Juvenile literature. | Rap musicians–United States–Biography–Juvenile literature. Classification: LCC ML3930.L465 B33 2023 | DDC 782.421649092 [B]–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2022002794
Developed and Produced by National Highlights, Inc. Editor: Andrew Luke Production: Crafted Content LLC (www.craftedcontentllc.com)
Contents BREAKTHROUGH ������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 CHAPTER 1: A STAR IS BORN ���������������������������������������������������� 1 1 CHAPTER 2: GREATEST MOMENTS ������������������������������������������������25 CHAPTER 3: BEHIND THE CURTAIN ���������������������������������������������39 CHAPTER 4: BRAND LIL NAS X ������������������������������������������������� 51 CHAPTER 5: MODERN MEGASTAR ������������������������������������������������65 SERIES GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS ���������������������������������������������76 FURTHER READING & INTERNET RESOURCES ����������������������������������77 INDEX �������������������������������������������������������������������������������78 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY & CREDITS ������������������������������������������������80
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Breakthrough A talented teenager who spent a chunk of his childhood growing up in a housing project in the shadows of Atlanta delivered a mammoth, history-making hit in 2019 – captivating the country and turning heads throughout the music industry – while sling-shooting his way to superstardom. When rapper Lil Nas X released “OldTown Road’’ to the Internet, it quickly went viral on the social media platformTikTok. That was the springboard to a meteoric rise up the Billboard Hot 100 list, and when country music star Billy Ray Cyrus joined him on a remix of the song in April 2019, it rocketed to the chart’s cherished top spot and didn’t budge for a record-setting 19 weeks. The historic occupancy bypassed the record runs of “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, and “Despacito’’ by Luis Fonsi and DaddyYankee. The quirky blending of country and hip-hop – by a black rapper – produced the most listened to song of the year, resonating with music fans of all ages. It even landed on the summer playlist of former US President Barack Obama. In its record ride at the top, it broke the one-week US streaming record with a whopping 143 million streams.
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X Amid the “OldTown Road” summer frenzy that swooped across the country, the cowboy-hat-wearing, flamboyant-dressing rapper announced that he was gay on the last day of Pride Month, the first artist to ever do so while owning a No. 1 record. Propelled into the spotlight, he performed “OldTown Road” at venues across the country and overseas, taking the stage with a cast of mega-stars that included Cardi B, DaBaby, Diplo, Keith Urban,Young Thug, and Mason Ramsey, among others.
By the end of the year, Lil Nas X was being handed shiny awards by the bunches. He received six Grammy Award nominations and took home a pair of awards for Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. In addition, he scooped up an American Music Award for Favorite Song – Rap/Hip-Hop, and with Billy Ray Cyrus won the Country Music Association Award for Musical Event of theYear, becoming the first hip-hop artist ever to
wrap his hands around this honor. “OldTown Road” was the first song of 2020 and the fastest in music history to be certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also ranked No. 7 on the Top 100
songs of the 2010 decade – and it introduced Lil Nas X to the world.
Smart Investment When Lil Nas X was writing “OldTown Road,” he spent $30 to buy the beat that is now part of music history. He purchased it fromYoungKio, a teen living in a village outside Amsterdam inThe Netherlands. He had begun making music several years earlier and uploaded his various creations to a digital music marketplace where Lil Nas X came across it. Red Carpet Ride Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus arrived on horseback for their performance at the 2019 BET Awards. The two rode down an empty red carpet to the doors of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, dismounted, and then entered the stage that was set up like a saloon to perform “OldTown Road.”
Lil Nas X
“OldTown Road” debuted on a trio of Billboard charts: the Hot 100, Hot R&B/ Hip-Hop Songs, and Hot Country Songs. However, it was later taken off the country list as Billboard cited that the song didn’t include enough country music elements, which created a firestorm of controversy and pointed the spotlight on the difficulty black artists have had cracking the traditionally white country charts. Lil Nas X was undeterred by this setback, however, as he would continue to dominate Billboard’s other charts for the better part of two years.
WORDS TO UNDERSTAND elicited —draw out a response from someone improbable —not likely to be true or to happen insurmountable —too great to be overcome notoriously —emphasizes that a bad quality or fact is well-known
Lil Nas X
Exhilarating Entrance As “OldTown Road” reverberated across the entertainment landscape, Lil Nas X was flung into the cauldron of bright lights, big crowds, and probing media. He gratefully soaked up every new and exhilarating second of his brand-new life while embracing all the different challenges and experiences that came his way. While he always had big dreams of making hits and being known, he hadn’t devoted any thought to all the other aspects linked to stardom which can be suffocating and career crushing for the ill-prepared and thin-skinned. However, Lil Nas X proved to be strong, confident, and remarkably resilient in an industry that can be incredibly harsh and unkind. From the start, he displayed versatility and adaptability, astonishing industry insiders with his knack for thriving in all settings. Despite being woefully inexperienced in performing in front of audiences, he powered through on every occasion and began building a fan base that continues to expand by the day. No stage was too big, no crowd too large, and no moment too stressful. He glided through them all with a smile, impressing music executives and other big-time stars who welcomed opportunities to share stages with him nationwide and in Europe.Yet, what made his arrival even more remarkable was looking back at where his journey began.
a star is born
Early in his journey to the top, Lil Nas X displayed an ability to adapt and
succeed in varied and challenging situations.
Lil Nas X
“My dad is a gospel singer. He still sings gospel but not as much. I guess [he] inspired me to say, ‘Wow, if my dad can go out there now, at almost 50 years old, and make music, what’s stopping me?’ It was definitely a part of what pushed me. I actually ended up using one of his engineers for some of my earlier music.” Rocky Road The beginnings of this wild, improbable run go all the way back to when he was born on April 9, 1999, in Lithia Springs, Georgia, a small city of roughly 18,000 residents that is about a 25-minute drive west of the state capital of Atlanta. The youngest of six, his parents Robert Stafford and Shawnita Hathaway named himMontero Lamar Hill. From the get-go, his life was challenging and complicated. Hill’s parents divorced when he was six, and the years that followed were spent bouncing from home to home, rarely feeling safe and secure when his head touched the pillow each night. While in elementary school, Hill spent time living with his mom and grandmother in Bankhead Courts, one of a string of housing projects that popped up around Atlanta in the 1970s and ‘80s. Constructed on top of a former landfill, it was a notoriously dangerous area filled with one-parent homes mired in poverty and offering bleak futures to the people living there. Individuals harboring bad intentions lurked everywhere, and it’s not a slice of his childhood that has happy memories attached to it. Hill eventually escaped the housing projects, moving in with his father, who later gained custody of him. Austell, Georgia, was his new home and represented a new beginning to a life that had been draped in hardship. His father was a gospel singer, so music was imprinted on Hill’s life early on, and he soon displayed a gift for singing and songwriting. He discovered comfort and creativity in his bedroom closet, hunkering down in there to write songs.
a star is born
Hill grew up in the small community of Austell, Georgia,
just north of Atlanta.
Lil Nas X
Hill attended Lithia Springs High School but walked the hallways primarily as a loner while lugging around a secret as heavy as a ship’s anchor: he was gay. He didn’t play sports, participate in extracurricular activities, or attend weekend parties that many students savor during their high school years. Instead, Hill preferred the solace of his bedroom – and the Internet would provide an escape hatch from the stress of living a life pretending to be somebody he wasn’t. He began floodingTwitter with attention-grabbing memes that showcased his creative talents and wit. Hill proceeded to spread his work on other social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, and cultivated a steady and growing audience of followers.
“It was like, I’m able to go viral, but I’m not promoting anything that’s gonna help me. Until music came along.”
After graduating from high school in 2017, he took a stab at college, enrolling at the University ofWest Georgia, but bailed on that after his freshman year to focus on music. Hill wound up sleeping on his sister’s couch, working a handful of unfulfilling minimum-wage jobs, and unknowingly creeping toward a life-changing moment that will be remembered in the music industry forever. Dynamic Live Debut While “OldTown Road” dominated the airwaves and the Billboard charts, it also pulled Lil Nas X out of the shadows. His days of closing off the world and hibernating in his bedroom were over. Fans loved this new hit, and they wanted to see and hear him perform it in person. He rose to the challenge and didn’t disappoint. As the three-day Stagecoach Country Music Festival wound to a close in 2019 in Indio, California – punctuated with country music giant Jason Aldean performing on Sunday evening – hardcore fans who stayed until the end were treated to the first official after-party to be held
a star is born
The crowd waits to enter the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California. Lil Nas X first performed live at the Festival in 2019.
Lil Nas X
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