Pride

Lil Nas X on Finding Success as a Queer Artist: 'It Feels Good to Prove People Wrong'

After the success of "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X's detractors labeled the rapper a one-hit wonder. Now, in a new interview, Nas is having the last laugh.

Appearing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's 2021 Pride issue, Lil Nas X spoke with Ira Madison III about the success of (and significant backlash to) his latest single "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)." The 22-year-old rapper, who recently earned his second No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Montero," said that the single's success felt like a refutation of those who didn't believe in him.

"I'm thankful. But it also feels good to prove people wrong. It's one of my driving forces," he said, before speaking about his initial rise to fame. "I was only getting like 1,000 plays a song [on SoundCloud], but I knew for a fact something huge was coming. And it happened."

Nas continued, saying that at first he was skeptical about releasing a song about gay sex and romance. But ultimately, he said he wanted to make it clear that supporting him meant supporting an artist who was openly, unquestionably queer. "At first I was really afraid of alienating any of my straight fans," he said. "But then it was kind of like, if they feel offended, they were never really here for me. They were here for whatever version of myself they made up in their head."

It was also important, he told the magazine, for him to step away from the "country-trap" sound that made him famous with "Old Town Road," instead deciding to emulate musical idols of his, including Nicki Minaj and Drake. "No, I want to do whatever the f--- I want. Stop trying to make me give you that next 'Old Town Road,'" he said of his thought process in composing his forthcoming album. "I found myself being able to grow lyrically and express more of me when I write my own songs."

The rapper also spoke about his Twitter presence, where he regularly claps back at those tweeting hateful comments at him, especially in the wake of his latest single. "I'm very much a chaotic good person — I almost never want to start shooting at somebody who didn't bring it to my doorstep, you know?" he said. "But I kind of live for when somebody tries to get me and I'm ready to throw it back at them tenfold. Do I feel bad about it sometimes? Every now and then, but I feel less bad knowing that I didn't start it. I try to never throw stones, but if somebody throws one at me, I'm throwing an entire house."

Check out the new interview, where Nas also discusses dating, inspiring queer fans and more, here.