Lil Nas X has been racking up magazine covers all 2019. His latest profile for TIME maps his road to viral success and how he went from being another college dropout to smashing the record for Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with the longest-running No. 1 song in history.
According to TIME, Lil Nas X is the sole writer of “Old Town Road” and he purchased the beat online for a mere $30. Studying the “tropes of popular music” and possessing a deep understanding of meme culture would both prove to pay off as he prepared to promote a full-on movement. Fast-forward to March when he was both signed to Columbia Records and banned from the Hot Country songs chart over the single. Heated backlash ensued and after enough attention was brought to it, Billy Ray Cyrus joined forces and the rest is history.
The piece also touches on the rapper’s sexuality identity following his decision to come out during Pride Month. TIME reports that he told his father and sister several weeks earlier before breaking the news on Twitter toward the end of June. Evidently, he’s positioned himself as the ultimate outlier and a “unified vision of the future” because “there aren’t many black stars in country music; there aren’t many queer stars in hip-hop.”
Scroll down to peep him on the cover wearing a made-to-measure custom Gladys Tamez Millinery hat, red suit by PHLEMUNS, and boots by pskaufman with jewels by Armature, and rings by Aman Itomi Jewelry. While you’re here, revisit our ranking of all the “Old Town Road” remixes along with this essay about why country rap is here to stay.