Lil Nas X, the artist behind “Old Town Road,” came out as gay in a new song titled “c7osure.” The rapper confirmed the news on his Twitter account.

In his billboard record breaking run, Lil Nas X has shown the country a new way to look at music and broken down cultural barriers

Story HighlightsLeBron Hill is an opinion and engagement reporter for The Tennessean and USA TODAY NETWORK Tennessee.

The charismatic and infectious Lil Nas X now holds the record for longest Billboard No. 1 hit single.

“Old Town Road” has been the hit of summer, playing everywhere from cookouts to nightclubs.

What makes this feat so different to the prior record holders is the trials and barriers Lil Nas X had to overcome during his Billboard reign

The Lil Nas X that could

Take a $30 instrumental, write a hook that will get stuck in the head of anyone who listens, along with lyrics that are a mixture of outrageousness and humor, promote the song on all music and social platforms, deal with the scrutiny of critics who believe you don’t belong, not wavering for a second. 

Think you can get two out of five?

Lil Nas X has been able to do those things and more by simply being himself. The beginning stages of the song’s history was a bit rocky to say the least. Climbing the Billboard Country music charts, only to be taken down because it supposedly did not represent the values of country music.

FILE – This June 1, 2019 file photo shows Lil Nas X performing at HOT 97 Summer Jam 2019 in East Rutherford, N.J. The rapper’s viral “Old Town Road” has broken the Billboard record set by Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day” for most weeks at No.1. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File) ORG XMIT: NYET104 (Photo: Scott Roth/Invision/AP)

More: ‘Old Town Road’ is the biggest song in Billboard Hot 100 history

The rising star didn’t let that stop his focus on making history. He then brought on Billy Ray Cyrus, who had his own one-hit wonder success, to feature alongside him. It soon blew up and made it to the top of the pop charts in Mid-April. 

Everyone hates to be rejected. No matter how strong we try to seem, at the point of rejection, it rocks us. It takes a tremendous amount of perseverance to get back on the horse (pun intended). Lil Nas X exemplifies that perseverance by adding Billy Ray and letting someone else join in on the success so that he can achieve his goal.

In June, a sign on Music Row congratulated Cyrus for “Old Town Road,” not including Lil Nas X. With protest from Cyrus, the sign was taken down and replaced with a sign that featured the song’s rightful creator. An artist, in any capacity, takes pride in what they’ve created, and it’s fair to say that one could be furious with someone not giving them the credit they deserve. However, the 20-year-old rapper chose to handle it in a respectful manner. Yes, he took to Twitter to hand out some snarky remarks, but he could have chosen to take Cyrus off the song completely.

Your state. Your stories. Support more reporting like this.
A subscription gives you unlimited access to stories across Tennessee that make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you. Click here to become a subscriber.Bridging the Gap

Everyone is aware of the culture barriers that both hip hop and country music hold against each other. Lil Nas X is not the only or the last artist to combine the two for musical success.

Everyone remembers — or tries to forget — the 2004 hit single “Over and Over” by St. Louis rapper Nelly and country music great Tim Mcgraw. The song was a nice attempt to bring together two distinct genres of music, but what ultimately sets “Old Town Road” apart from the song is how Lil Nas X can mesh what makes hip hop and country so great but make it also individual from the two. 


Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ hit ‘Old Town Road’ is a 2019 soundtrack, it’s also inspired a 4-year-old mostly nonverbal child to begin speaking, his mom says.
Courtesy of Sheletta Brundidge

In late June, Lil Nas X  made the announcement on his Twitter that he was gay. I don’t think coming out was his way of making a statement; rather it was a moment to be himself. Regardless, he’s made many marginalized groups feel not only confident but inspired to be different. Think about it, the younger generation who will grow up knowing Lil Nas X’s success will not have the same stereotypes of the generations before.

Admittedly, growing up as a black man, listening to country music was frowned upon. It didn’t stop me from listening, but whenever my friends came over I made sure to shy away from singing Alan Jackson or Garth Brooks. The younger generation will see music as experimental, unique to their own ear. 

Lil Nas X’s place in music history

This past weekend Billy Ray Cyrus performed at the center of all country music, the Grand Ole Opry. Of course he had to play “Old Town Road,” but this time alongside him was internet sensation Mason Ramsey, who also tag-teamed with Lil Nas X on a cover of the song. Although Lil Nas X wasn’t there, it’s a tremendous feat to have your song played in the most iconic venue of all country music. 

Lil Nas X may not be The Beatles or Michael Jackson, but his legacy has been set for years to come. His legacy will be centered on his unselfishness with his music, allowing anyone to enjoy what brought him so much joy and success.

LeBron Hill is an opinion and engagement reporter for The Tennessean. You can contact him via phone: 615-829-2384 or email: [email protected]


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions


Read or Share this story: