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 The viral country-rap hit "Old Town Road" made Lil Nas X a star in 2019, going from background music

Lil Nas X

in TikTok videos, to a diamond certified (10,000,000 copies sold) music industry phenomenon — spending 19 weeks atop the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It is the longest-reigning single to top the chart since its debut in 1958. 

Then with the spotlight on him and the industry waiting to see what he would do next he did the unthinkable, at the height of his popularity he came out as gay. The move could have ended his burgeoning career, driven largely by the country and rap markets, neither known to be bastions of tolerance for non-conforming artists. Instead, the social media savvy star turned his supposed weaknesses into a strength rallying new fans to his work and earning the support of celebrities like Niki Minaj. 

While not everyone has embraced him, his talent and Internet acumen have continued to keep him wining in the music game, releasing platinum single after single to follow-up to his initial hit. Controversy has continued to follow his nascent career. In March of 2021 his collaboration with New York-based art collective MSCHF, a modified pair of Nike Air Max 97s called Satan Shoes with a drop of human blood featured in all 666 pairs put up for sale sparked outraged. Christian groups, politicians and others said he was promoting Satan. Nike eventually stepped into the storm to protect its image and sued the collective for trademark infringement. Lil Nas took the lawsuit in stride with a legendary Twitter response and the companies eventually settled the suit. 

The artist didn’t forget the fiasco and brilliantly used the scenario as the basis for his latest single “Industry Baby” a track co-produced by Kanye West and Take A Daytrip and featuring Jack Harlow that releases Friday. Watch as Lil Nas turns another potential misstep into a win: 

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