1/ When Lil Nas X dropped out of college to pursue music he didn’t write many song. His sole focus was on growing an audience. He lived on Twitter, made friends, and got popular posting memes. Quickly his account grew to 30,000 followers.
2/ The plan was to use his following to promote his music. But it wasn’t that simple. “I’d post a funny meme and get 2,000 retweets. Then I’d post a song and get 10.“ — @LilNasX
3/ So Nas got creative. He stopped tweeting SoundCloud links and started writing a song he could promote through memes. “It had to be short. It had to be catchy. It had to be funny.“ — @LilNasX
5/ The video went viral. So Nas stuck to this formula: • Short viral videos • To the tune of Old Town Road • Full song linked underneath As an unknown artist, it was the only way he could get the word out. And the views started piling up.
6/ Inspired by Old Town Road’s success on Twitter it spread to TikTok, and even onto Billboard’s country music charts. Yes, the country music charts. Nas listed it as a country song aware that the charts were less competitive.
7/ One week later Billboard removed it for “not being a country song”. Ironically, this was the best thing that could have possibly happened. Billboard’s decision turned Old Town Road into a national talking point and two weeks later it was No. 1.
8/ Nas wasn’t stopping. He lined up remixes with some of music’s biggest stars. Billboard has a loophole where remix plays count towards the original song’s chart placement. With every remix millions more streams poured in, and Old Town Road became impossible to budge.
9/ 17 weeks later he’d broke Mariah Carey’s record for the most consecutive weeks at No. 1. It’s easy to forget what an extraordinary story this is. 5 months earlier, Nas was a college dropout sleeping on his sister’s couch with a negative balance in his Wells Fargo account.
10/ “A lot of people like to say a kid accidentally got lucky. No. This was no accident.“ — @LilNasX The more I learned about Nas the more I believed him.
11/ A key moment in Old Town Road’s rise was a video of a man standing on a galloping horse going viral on Twitter. The audio was set to Old Town Road. Different versions of the video were viewed millions of times.
12/ I wanted to know how the video spread, so I did some digging and found it first posted on the 24th December: I asked the Twitter user why he made the video. He told me Nas had DM’d him the idea. But it doesn’t end there … https://t.co/BkrVe1TIrl
14/ Things didn’t happen to Nas. Things happened because of Nas. Virality is not mystical. Take a peek behind the curtain. Nas is sitting in his underpants, on his sister’s couch, iPhone in hand, making the whole thing happen.
15/ No one knew him. No one cared about his music. No one promoted anything for him. He made friends, made them laugh, and built an audience. Then he packaged his song in a way that fit into their life. https://t.co/DCp02WAWfd