Who is Lil Nas X? The story behind the rapper's viral smash Old Town Road

The internet star-turned-rapper's debut single Old Town Road is going from viral hit to Number 1 contender.

Lil Nas X's viral hit Old Town Road looks set to takeover the charts in the UK and across the world this week.

The song is on track to enter the Top 5 on this week's Official UK Singles Chart after entering last week's Top 40 at Number 39 - and climbs to Number 1 on the latest Official Trending Chart.

Who is Lil Nas X? 

Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X - or Montero Hill to his mates - first found fame as an internet personality on Twitter through his Nicki Minaj fan account @NasMaraj and more recently @FactsAboutNM and @viewsfromnas. He then began making music, releasing Old Town Road last December. The song is an unusual blend of modern hip hop and banjo-led country music.

How did Old Town Road become a viral smash? 

The track went viral in early 2019 thanks to the 'Yeehaw Challenge' meme on video social media app TikTok. People film themselves transforming into cowboys and cowgirls after drinking a bottle of 'yee juice', mostly set to Lil Nas X's song. It's popularity led it to entering America's Billboard chart, where it has so far peaked at Number 15. Watch a compilation of some of the best takes on the challenge below: 

Why Old Town Road in the Official UK Chart now? 

The Yeehaw Challenge (#yeehaw) has gone global, leading more and more people to stream and download the song. Another big contributing factor is a new remix of the song featuring country legend Billy Ray Cyrus, which was released on April 5.

Controversy surrounding the song has also given it more exposure: after debuting at Number 19 on Billboard's country songs chart, Old Town Road was removed from the chart as it was deemed insufficiently country. In a statement to Rolling Stone, Billboard said the song "does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version."

Billy responded to removal on Twitter, posting: “I was thinking, what’s not country about it? What’s the rudimentary element of a country and western song? Then I thought, it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do ya need?" 

Controversy aside, Lil Nas X is the first internet star to gain this level of success through TikTok. "TikTok helped me change my life,” the rapper said on TikTok’s blog. "TikTok brought my song to several different audiences at once."

This week's Official Trending Chart Top 20

POS CLIMB TITLE ARTIST LW CURRENT DIFF PREV PEAK
1 ⬆️⬆️ OLD TOWN ROAD LIL NAS X 39 4 35 39
2   TALK KHALID 16 8 8 12
3   BOASTY WILEY/STEFFLON DON/SEAN PAUL 11 11 0 11
4   HERE WITH ME MARSHMELLO FT CHVRCHES 15 12 3 14
5   SO AM I AVA MAX 20 17 3 18
6 ⬆️⬆️ MONOPOLY ARIANA GRANDE & VICTORIA MONET 40 18 22 40
7   RACING CARS RUTI NE 22 0  
8   KILL THIS LOVE BLACKPINK NE 26 0  
9 ⬆️ ALL DAY AND NIGHT JAX JONES/MARTIN SOLVEIG/BEER 41 27 14  
10   COOL JONAS BROTHERS NE 31 0  
11 ⬆️⬆️ MY BAD KHALID 59 37 22  
12   LET ME DOWN SLOWLY ALEC BENJAMIN 46 45 1  
13   I'LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN MOLLY HOCKING NE 47 0  
14   LAST HURRAH BEBE REXHA 52 51 1  
15   ONLY WANT YOU RITA ORA 64 58 6  
16   WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU JONAS BLUE FT THERESA REX 70 61 9  
17   NOBODY MARTIN JENSEN & JAMES ARTHUR 66 62 4  
18   RACKS IN THE MIDDLE NIPSEY HUSSLE/RODDY RICCH NE 71 0  
19   PARADISE BAZZI NE 93 0  
20   WHITE LIES M-22 NE 110 0  

©2019 Official Charts Company . All rights reserved.

Key

⬆️ - Indicates a climb of 10 places
LW - Last week's Official Singles Chart position
CURRENT - Current position on today's Official Singles Chart sales flash
DIFF - Number of places climbed since the previous week on the Official Singles Chart

Listen to a playlist of this week's Official Trending Chart Top 20 on Spotify below. Click here to listen on Deezer.