Montero Lamar Hill was born April 9, 1999 and is known professionally as Lil Nas X, is an American rapper, singer and songwriter. He came to international attention for his country rap single “Old Town Road”, which first achieved viral popularity on the micro-platform video sharing app TikTok in early 2019. The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for nineteen weeks, the only song to do so since the chart started in 1958.
In June 2019, Nas X came out as gay, the only artist ever to have done so while having a number-one record. Nas X is the only openly LGBTQ artist to win a Country Music Association award because of the song.
Montero Lamar Hill was born in Lithia Springs, Georgia, a small city outside of Atlanta. His parents divorced when he was six, and he settled in the Bankhead Courts housing project with his mother and grandmother. Three years later, he moved in with his father, a gospel singer, north of the city in Austell, Georgia. Although initially reluctant to leave, he later regarded it as an important decisio. He started using the Internet heavily, right around the time when memes started to become their own form of entertainment – about when he was thirteen.
He spent much of his teenage years alone, and turned to the Internet, particularly Twitter, creating memes that showed his disarming wit and pop-culture savvy. His teenage years also saw him struggling with his coming out to himself as being gay; he prayed that it was just a phase, but around sixteen or seventeen he came to accept it. He began playing trumpet in the fourth grade and was first chair by his junior high years, but quit out of fear of looking uncool.
He attended Lithia Springs High School and graduated in 2017. He studied for one year at the University of West Georgia before dropping out. During this time, he stayed with his sister and supported himself with jobs at Zaxby’s restaurants and the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park. In September 2019 he revisited his high school to perform a surprise concert.
Hill said he began to isolate himself from “outside-of-class activities” during his teenage years. He spent large amounts of time online in hopes of building a following as an internet personality to promote his work, but was unsure what to focus on creatively. In a Rolling Stone interview he stated that he was doing Facebook comedy videos, then moved over to Instagram, and then hopped on Twitter where he really was a master. That was the first place where he could go viral. He posted short-format comedy videos on Facebook and Vine.
He then landed on music as a path to success, and started writing and recording songs in his closet. He adopted the name Lil Nas X, which is a tribute to the rapper Nas (real name Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones).