From TikTok to Billboard Hot 100 to the cover of Time magazine and now to the Grammy arena, could Lil Nas X have had gone anymore OTT?
A 20 year old lad from somewhere outside of Atlanta, Lil Nas had virtually no claim to fame till an attempt at going viral landed him exactly where he wanted- on the lap of instant fame and the pinnacle of unwavering adulteration. From becoming a viral hit on Tiktok to reigning supreme over the Billboard Hot 100 list in both its Hot Country and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop lists, Nas X became the internet’s latest sensation and also as much a phenomenon in the music world. So much so that in less than a year he has done something which celebrated artists fail to do even after years and years of expertise- ruling over the 2020 Grammy nominations with a whopping six mentions that sure stems from the popularity and success of his debut number- a country song ‘Old Town Road’.
For TikTok enthusiasts, Old Town Road needs no introduction. A definite country song, though with interesting diversions, the Lil Nas X single caught the fancy of many of the app’s users as the Yee Haw Challenge took over and generated more than a million responses in what is undeniably a funky, addictive trend that has youngsters drinking the yee boy drink and transforming instantly to the cowboy avatar that Nas X sees through so refreshingly in his debut video. Guys and girls and even cats and dogs yield in to reveal a typical hat donning, lasso- holding cowboy who grooves to the addictive beat of what had been the very dominant buzz all over the web.
Just a few couple of months after its debut, Old Town Road made its way to the Billboard list, positioning itself at 83, thanks mainly to the insane speed with which it went viral particularly on TikTok. Old Town Road though stirred up some controversy when it was dropped by Billboard from its Country list because the song wasn’t just country enough. The departure was short lived though as Lil Nas released an official video of his song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus that propelled it to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 100. Not only that, Old Town Road also became the longest running hit ever atop the aforesaid list, staying put for a consecutive 19 weeks before losing out recently to fellow Grammy nominee Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’.
By his own admission, Lil Nas’ Old Town Road is a name that stuck just because it sounded very country like to him. In fact, the song itself is a chronicling of what Nas had been going through in person and the part- rap, part- country tune gives the song such a zesty vibe that it’s difficult to not just instantaneously groove through it.
For a 20 year old who always had the vision to do big- if going viral equates to going big, that is- Nas X sure cooked up the right buzz to land right in the midst of what he always wanted. But a Grammy nomination- six to be precise inclusiding one for Best New Artist- might have been too much to ask for even for Nas who reacted to the same in disbelief, as he tweeted out “NO FUCKING WAY”.
NO FUCKING WAY— nope (@LilNasX) November 20, 2019
However, the Recording Academy that picks out the nominees seems to have finally opened up its avenues to such new stars who are seeking to redefine the boundaries of music through such mediums that might have traditionally been deemed inconsequential but is now perhaps what throws the avenues wide open for a host of emerging new artistes and performers who rely on their talent to make their voices- or songs- heard.
It’s therefore not surprising that this recent celebration that is supposedly more encompassing has also two other nominees aside of Nas who are also remarkably the firsts in their own way. While 17 year old Billie Eilish lays her claim to fame as the youngest ever to be nominated for album of the year, 31 year old Lizzo emerged as the one with eight nominations to her name. Inerestingly, both Lizzo and Eilish have also been nominated jointly for the Grammys’ top four general categories for the first time ever in the Awards’ 62 year old history.
Nas however stands out perhaps because his less than a year long presence in the limelight has been notable also for pursuits not directly related to his music. Lil Nas X knew how to embark on the viral path in just the right measure, stepping up his own opportunities as he tried to get into collaborations and ensure that his virality also becomes as phenomenal a success as he deserves. Named one of the most influential people on the internet by Time magazine, Nas appeared on the magazine’s cover in its August issue.
Even Old Town Road heralded in the music world the dawn of numerous firsts. The first hip hop song to achieve a 13th week standing atop the Billboard 100 list and also the first ever song to have sold ten million copies in that position, the YouTube top song of the summer also rests in another remarkable first. Courtesy the Old Town Road positioning, Lil Nas X also became the first openly gay artist to have a song atop the Billboard list when it continued the dominance even in its 15th week. For a song of such magnificence, asserted in part by its virality and also by its claim to stupefying acceptance in the larger realm of professional music, Lil Nas X’s claim to Grammy glory, albeit in the nominations as of now, sure is a matter of more than just a lil self conviction.