Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, was born on April 9, 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia. He began his career as an internet personality, gaining popularity through several of his Nicki Minaj fan accounts. Accumulating a large number of followers through his accounts, he then began making music after being encouraged by his followers.
Nas started uploading songs on SoundCloud in 2018 before releasing his debut single "Old Town Road" on December 3 independently. The song became hugely popular in early 2019 due to the viral "Yeehaw challenge" on social media app TikTok. It was also thanks to this song that Nas was able to sign to Columbia Records.
The song debuted at No. 83 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart before reaching into the top twenty in just a week. It also launched at No. 19 on Hot Country Songs chart, before being controversially removed from the chart in March 2019 after the magazine decided that the song was not embracing "enough elements of today's country music." Many began accusing Billboard of racism after that, given the fact that black artists who release country music are really rare. However, a Billboard spokesperson insisted that the decision "had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist."
Despite the removal of the song from Hot Country Chart, Nas' "Old Town Road" continued to do well on other charts. It dethroned Ariana Grande's "7 Rings" on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and marked his first chart-topping single. With that, he became the first solo artist to top the chart on a first try since Cardi B did the same in 2017 with "Bodak Yellow". He also became the first artist to make the swiftest ascent to No. 1 on the chart for an act with no prior Hot 100 history at all since 2013, when Baauer's "Harlem Shake" debuted atop the chart.