During 2018 and 2019, a discussion formed online around "yeehaw culture," a movement based around the forgotten history of black cowboys and cowgirls in old Western culture. What began as a silly meme song—a fusion of country and trap music, that was added to the "country" genre on Spotify—unwittingly put the formerly unknown Lil Nas X and "Old Town Road" at the center of the discussion, and the song caught fire quickly on the Billboard charts.
Controversy ensued when Billboard removed the song from their country charts, claiming it "does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version." In response, a remix with none other than Billy Ray Cyrus was made, and off the heels of many heated discussions of whether Billboard's decision was justified or not, it vastly increased the song's popularity. The song, and its remix, both wound up spending weeks at #1, famously holding Taylor Swift's comeback single, "ME!", from the top spot. At one minute and fifty-three seconds, the original version is Billboard's shortest number-one single since 1965.note It turned this young, genre-blending upstart into a bona fide phenomenon.
On June 30, 2019, the last day of Pride Month, Lil Nas X came out of the closet on his Twitter page.
- Nasarati (2018)
- 7 (EP; 2019)
Yeahhhhhhh, I'm gonna take my horse, to the old town tropes...
- Ascended Meme: During the infamous "Storm Area 51" movement of summer 2019, a crowdfunding campaign sprung up asking for him to perform the song as marching music for the "invaders." Nas X embraced the joke with great enthusiasm, saying that he would gladly perform at Area 51 "for free."
- Boastful Rap: "Sonic Shit", where he raps about his internet fame pre-"Old Town Road"
- Country Rap: "Old Town Road" is a unique take on this.
- The Cameo: Chris Rock, Vince Staples, Young Kio, Rico Nasty and Diplo all have appearances in the "Old Town Road" official music video.
- Curse Cut Short: In the video for "Panini", Skai Jackson at one point visibly mouths "what the fu-" before the camera cuts back to Lil Nas X air dancing using a jetpack.
- Cyber Punk: The video for "Panini" takes place in a metropolis which wouldn't be out of place in Blade Runner, featuring neon-colored hologram ads (many of which are of Nas X himself), robots, and hovering vehicles.
- Gay Cowboy: After coming out, he's leaned into this aesthetic. It reached its pinnacle when he wore a hot pink Prada cowboy suit to the Grammys in 2020.
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Discussed in "Panini", acknowledging how a good portion of his initial underground fans turned on him once he became an overnight sensation. While he's frustrated by their reaction, he isn't willing to give up the fame just for them, but he does extend an olive branch in hopes that they'll change their mind and come back to support him again.
- Large Ham: Lil Nas himself: Most of his Twitter and personality in real life can be described as a shitposter, joking around and being incredibly playful with his popularity. The only time this wasn't the case was when he dead-pan tweeted that "Old Town Road" was just about horses and not some deep symbolism of gay sex following his coming out.
- Miniscule Rocking: None of the songs on 7 past 3 minutes.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Lil Nas X spends much of 7 blending all sorts of different sounds together. blink-182's Travis Barker even shows up to do some punk rock drumming on one track.
- "Old Town Road" samples the Nine Inch Nails track "34 Ghosts VI," which bizarrely gives NIN's Trent Reznor a songwriting credit on the biggest hip-hop song of 2019.
- While not a direct audio sample, Nas X admitted that the chorus to "Panini" was based on that of Nirvana's "In Bloom."
- His earlier song "Sonic Shit" from "Nasarati" is more-or-less built by sampling Lil Yachty's "NBAYOUNGBOAT" and sound effects from Sonic the Hedgehog.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: He sang with Elmo on an episode of The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.
- His name is a combination of Lil Wayne, Nas and DMX.
- "Sonic Shit" references, among other things, Sonic the Hedgehog (obviously), Migos, Paul Walker, and The Get Down.
- Among other things, the music video for the Billy Ray Cyrus/Young Thug/Mason Ramsey remix of "Old Town Road" features Keanu Reeves Naruto running and a purple crow with Thanos's head. Your guess is as good as ours.
- The namesake Straw Fan of "Panini" is named after a character from Chowder, whose signature character trait is die-hard obsession to a single person. There's even an official music video animated directly after the show.
- The music video for "Rodeo" features a SAW reference, vampires, similarities to "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, Doritos Cool Ranch and The Matrix.
- Straw Fan: "Panini" is about a fan who became displeased with Lil Nas X after he suddenly gained national fame and recognition.Lil Nas X: Ay, Panini
Don't you be a meanie
Thought you wanted me to go up
Why you tryna keep me teeny?
- Your Cheating Heart: Says it best in "Old Town Road"Lil Nas X: Cheated on my baby, You can go and ask her.