For singer and rapper Lil Nas X, even five years after releasing “Old Town Road,” it’s still his most famous song.

Lil Nas X was on the red carpet at 2024 Met Gala
Lil Nas X was on the red carpet at the 2024 Met Gala

The 25-year-old’s country-trap hit is the longest-running number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, staying at the top for 19 weeks.

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Despite its pop success, it was left out of the US country music charts, sparking debate when it came out in 2019. Billboard said it didn’t have enough elements of modern country music to qualify.

Some music critics thought this was about race, noting that black artists are rarely recognized in country music. Billboard denied this, but the controversy grew when Lil Nas X released a remix with country star Billy Ray Cyrus.

In 2024, two black artists found success on the country charts. Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em” spent 10 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, followed by Shaboozey’s “A Bar Song (Tipsy).”

Lil Nas X told the BBC he’s happy for these artists but wishes he had the same recognition. He has been experimenting with country sounds but only when it feels right.

Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, became famous online before becoming a music artist. He built a presence on Twitter (now X) and Vine, which helped “Old Town Road” go viral before he ever performed live.

A new documentary, “Long Live Montero,” shows his transformation into a touring artist in 2022. It captures him getting used to performing on stage, something new for him. He admits feeling like an imposter at first but eventually embraced it.

The documentary also covers his experience coming out as queer while “Old Town Road” was number one. He faced backlash but remained strong, inspiring his fans by being open about his sexuality.

On stage, Lil Nas X shines, performing hits like “Industry Baby” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” as well as fan favorites like “Sun Goes Down” and “Rodeo.” He wants to create more big songs while still making personal tracks for his fans.

Lil Nas X’s online success has turned into real-life recognition. He has won two Grammy Awards and is the first openly queer black artist to win a Country Music Association (CMA) award.

Despite his success, he still values going viral. The success of “Old Town Road” was largely thanks to TikTok. He knows hits are important for his public image and to support those who have helped him.

“Long Live Montero” is available in the UK on digital platforms from Monday, May 20.