Lil Nas X‘s life changed when he released “Old Town Road” — which spent a history-making 19 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 — in 2019. Two years after the release of “Old Town Road,” the 22-year-old rapper reflecting on coming out in the midst of the song’s massive success.
“I don’t think I would have ever came out,” Lil Nas said while discussing his decision to come out in June 2019 during an interview in XXL‘s fall issue, published Tuesday (Sept. 28). “I honestly felt like it was kind of my duty. Especially if I wanted to move forward. And what I was doing, because authenticity is very real, and I feel like people can see right through that. And that’s a part of me.”
The “Industry Baby” rapper also explained that after coming out, he felt as if his sexuality sat like a cloud over his music and his public persona. “For me, I felt like [my insecurity with my sexuality] was my fear of people judging me for how I would act post-coming out. I used to ‘like’ comments where people were like, ‘Oh, I like him, because he’s not all in your face about it,’” Lil Nas said. “And then I realized kind of what that was. It’s kind of like when people say, ‘Oh, I have a Black friend,’ and that kind of sits on everything that have to do with their Black history and culture, whatnot. I’m kind of like, I’m not that person, you know?”
Lil Nas also reflected on being excluded from the hip-hop community because of his sexual orientation, a feeling that he has expressed in the recent past with a tweet that said Black male artists in the industry aren’t interested in working with him. “Honestly, I don’t feel as respected in hip-hop or many music places in general,” he noted. “But these are communities that I am a part of, whether people would like it or not. This is something that I wanted to do because, not that my entire album is rap, but there are rap tracks on my album. I am a rapper. I am a pop star. I am a gay artist. But it’s like, I belong in these places, you know?”
While the rapper has certainly had detractors in the hip-hop community, there are also some who are stepping up to support him. After X tweeted about the lack of Black male artists who want to work with him, Kid Cudi raised his hand for a collab. Then in his essay about the “Sun Goes Down” artist for Time’s 100 Most Influential People issue, Cudi wrote: “There’s a homophobic cloud over hip-hop, and [Lil Nas X is] going to break that s— down. We have to stand with him. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to let him know — you have my support. When we do our song together, however trippy the video is, let’s get sexy with it.”
Since the success of “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X’s music has continued to land on the Billboard charts. His debut album, Montero — released Sept. 17 — entered the Billboard 200 chart at the No. 2 spot. His singles “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” “Industry Baby,” and “Thats What I Want” reached top 10 status on the Hot 100, while eight other songs on his album additionally found placement on the chart.