“Old Town Road” is going to ride the charts ‘til it can’t no more.
Just weeks after he came out as gay, Lil Nas X has made music history: his country/ trap crossover hit song “Old Town Road” is now longest-running No. 1 track in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. It has now spent 17 consecutive weeks atop the list.
The song that has caught fire across the nation this summer has leapfrogged Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s 1995 hit “One Sweet Day” as well as “Despacito,” a 2017 song by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber.
The song’s earth-shattering rise did not come without bumps along the way. The categorization of “Old Town Road” became a major topic of controversy in March when Billboard pulled it from its “country” list, saying it did not “embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.” But Lil Nas X, an Atlanta native who frequently dons a cowboy hat, subsequently unveiled a new version of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, helping to boost it to the top charts.
In the midst of the song’s record-breaking success — and on the final day of Pride month — Lil Nas X opted to share details about his sexuality on Twitter and appeared to admit that he was prepared to lose supporters due to his sexual orientation.
“Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more,” he wrote on June 30. “But before this month ends I want y’all to listen closely to c7osure,” which is a song featured on his debut EP, “7”. In that song, he says, “Ain’t no more actin’, man that forecast say I should just let me grow,” and, “This is what I gotta do, can’t be regrettin’ when I’m old.”
That same day, Lil Nas X also pointed out that his debut EP, which came out on June 21, featured art showing rainbow colors in a skyline. He zoomed into the rainbow buildings in an image he posted on Twitter and said, “Deadass thought I made it obvious.”
Nearly a month later, the 20-year-old rapper reflected on his Billboard record in a Twitter post on July 29. He summed up his record-breaking journey dating back to last October when he was a “struggling artist starting to lose faith in what I could be.” He had been living with his sister at the time and was at a crossroads.
“My sister told me I had little time left before I had to leave her house after being there for months promoting my music online and not helping her out much,” he wrote.
He eventually purchased a beat for the song for $30 and worked arduously on writing “Old Town Road” before posting it on the video-sharing app TikTok, where it blew up after people recorded their own videos using the song’s soundtrack. Lil Nas X ‘s public profile then exploded — he now has more than 2.4 million Twitter followers and 3.6 million Instagram followers — and he has since managed to use humor, popular culture, and his music to maintain a strong overall presence on social media.
Since coming out, he has not been afraid to continue invoking his sexuality — especially when employing his sense of humor.
“Wow man last year I was sleeping on my sister’s floor, had no money, struggling to get plays on my music, suffering from daily headaches, now I’m gay,” he wrote in a light-hearted Twitter post on July 28.
He’s no one-hit wonder, either. Lil Nas X is already having success with two songs from his EP — “Panini,” which is currently 29th on the list, and “Rodeo,” which is ranked 60th.
“As I said before, it’s just the beginning,” he wrote on Twitter July 29.