Lil Nas X arrived on the music scene in December of 2018 with his country/hip-hop hit "Old Town Road." It stayed on the Billboard charts for 19 weeks straight and hit #1 on the Hot 100 on April 9, 2019. At the time Rolling Stone published their first article about him ("Desperado") in June of 2019, "Old Town Road" had 63 million views on YouTube. Now in November of 2023, the official video has over 1.1 billion views on that platform. The song won Grammies for Best Pop Duo and for Best Music Video in 2020. That was not going to be the last we heard from Lil Nas X, either.
In 2022, he racked up five nominations for a Grammy in the Album of the Year in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Music Video categories for "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," and also for Best Melodic Rap Performance for "Industry Baby." All of this is pretty amazing for a young man who dropped out of college and had a number one hit by age 20.
Besides his music, he's also known for his sense of style. A pink cowboy hat, colorful suits (often Western-inspired), and sometimes nearly nothing on at all has set him apart from his peers. He's not afraid of glitter, rhinestones, fringe, feathers, eye make-up and other embellishments worthy of Elton John. He's an out and proud Gay man, and his music videos demonstrate a queer aesthetic.
Throughout 2024, the Boston Public Library is highlighting revolutionary musicians throughout history. In January, we celebrate the groundbreaking rapper and singer Lil Nas X, whose unflinching and joyous embrace of his queer Black identity in his music opens up new worlds to his listeners, with this list of fiction and nonfiction books that will appeal to his fans both new and old. To learn more about Lil Nas X and his music, read the blog post linked at the bottom of the list!