Lil Nas X is the epitome of the internet in 2019. To understand him, first, you need to understand tweetdecking – the practice through which teens with thousands of followers coordinate with one another on Twitter to boost tweets and manufacture virality for cash. Atlanta-born Lil Nas X started his career as a tweetdecker, before transitioning to viral TikTok meme, and eventually (we say “eventually”, but this timeline was compressed into just a few weeks), bona fide chart-topping artist.
Now, his uber-viral country rap hit “Old Town Road” – which was unjustly kicked off Billboard’s Country charts – has whizzed through a checklist of digital fame in record speed. Shining a light on the lack of diversity and representation in establishment musical institutions? Check. A million memes and counting? Check. Getting a superstar (in this case, Billy Ray Cyrus and Young Thug) on the remix? Check. Lil Nas X is the biggest success story America has seen since Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”, which was the last time an artist hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with their first ever entry.
Nas represents a new kind of Gen Z fame that we’re still getting whiplash from. How long is his notoriety going to last? Who knows – but critics were skeptical about the longevity of “Bodak Yellow”, and look at Cardi now. The only thing we know for sure is that this bio will probably already be out of date by the time it’s published.