After becoming the first gay musician to win the Song of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards and the first to be honored by the Country Music Association, the 20-year-old made history once again by winning a spot on the list of Forbes of the best-paid groups of the country. Lil Nas X (Montero Lamar Hill) earned $ 14 million before taxes in 2019, enough for a #18 in the rankings of “Money” magazine.
In addition to being the first LGBTQ + person to make the Forbes list of the richest in country music, Lil Nas X is also the first person of color. He is also the youngest person in the top 20, which was dominated by the Nashville pillars such as Luke Bryan (#1), Keith Urban (#3), and Blake Shelton (#4).
Diego Farias, the co-founder of Amuse, told Forbes that the inclusion of Lil Nas X on the list is unprecedented, as is the dominance of the success charts of his success. “Old Town Road” ruled the Billboard Hot 100 for 19 weeks, a record number.
“It was on the viral lists of countries where no country song has been positioned,” said Farias, whose service was one of the first to broadcast “Old Town Road.” “Everything from the markets of Southeast Asia to the markets of Eastern Europe. I mean, I am talking about places that are not necessarily associated with cowboy hats and boots.”
An important part of the “Old Town Road” success story, however, is that it became a phenomenon while receiving little support from the industry. Although Lil Nas X has argued that the country trap song “leans more towards the country,” Billboard considered it ineligible for inclusion in Country’s charts.
That decision was infamous and counterproductive. When “Old Town Road” was officially removed from Billboard’s specific metrics, the rapper released a remix with singer Billy Ray Cyrus of “Achy Breaky Heart,” one who only cemented his dominance in the Hot 100 in general. The genre hybrid was at the level of the best of Mariah Carey and Boys II Men’s “One Sweet Day” as the longest Billboard number one ever, all without Country’s charts.
Therefore, the offer of Forbes should feel like sweet, sweet revenge.
Lil Nas X could have another flavor when the Grammy Awards are announced in 2020. He is nominated for six Grammys, including the Disco of the Year (for “Old Town Road”), Album of the Year (for his first EP, 7 ), and Best Revelation artist. Taking home any of those awards would make him the first black and gay man to be awarded in the category.
However, Forbes rankings show that music still has a lot of work to do before the playing field is leveled for everyone. Only six women were on the list of the highest-income people in the country, and Shania Twain (#7) was the only member of the top 10. The gay icon Dolly Parton entered #15, followed by Carrie Underwood (#16), and Faith Hill (#17), Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert are tied for #20.