Many rap fans have wondered if there is any family connection between Nas, the legendary rapper who debuted in the 1990s, and Lil Nas X, the viral sensation who rose to fame in 2019 with his country-rap hit “Old Town Road”. The answer is no, they are not related at all. They only share a similar name, but their backgrounds, styles and influences are very different. Here is what you need to know about the two artists and how they came up with their stage names.
Nas: The OG of Hip-Hop
Nas, whose real name is Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, was born on September 14, 1973, in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Olu Dara, a jazz musician from Mississippi, and Fannie Ann Jones, a postal worker from North Carolina. Nas has one brother, Jabari Fret, who raps under the name Jungle.
Nas grew up in Queensbridge, a public housing project that was known for its crime and violence. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and started writing rhymes at the age of nine. He was influenced by rap pioneers like Rakim, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane.
Nas made his debut in 1991 with a guest verse on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque”. He caught the attention of MC Serch, who helped him secure a record deal with Columbia Records. In 1994, he released his first album, Illmatic, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. It featured production from DJ Premier, Q-Tip, Pete Rock and Large Professor, and showcased Nas’ lyrical skills and storytelling abilities.
Nas went on to release 12 more studio albums, four of which reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart. He has sold over 25 million records worldwide and has won four Grammy Awards. He is also an entrepreneur, an actor and a philanthropist. He has collaborated with artists like Lauryn Hill, Damian Marley, Kanye West and Jay-Z.
Nas chose his stage name as a shortened version of his first name, Nasir. He also used other aliases like Nasty Nas, Nas Escobar and God’s Son. He said that his name represents his identity as a Muslim and an African-American.
Lil Nas X: The Internet Sensation
Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, was born on April 9, 1999, in Lithia Springs, Georgia. He is the son of Robert Stafford and Tammy Hill. He has four sisters and three brothers.
Lil Nas X grew up in a poor and unstable household. He moved around a lot between his parents and his grandmother. He attended Lithia Springs High School and graduated in 2017. He then enrolled in the University of West Georgia but dropped out after one year to pursue music.
Lil Nas X started making music in 2018 using online platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube. He was inspired by artists like Outkast, Drake and Nicki Minaj. He also created memes and viral content on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok.
Lil Nas X rose to fame in 2019 with his song “Old Town Road”, which he recorded in his bedroom using a beat he bought online for $30. The song blended elements of country and rap music and featured a sample from Nine Inch Nails’ “34 Ghosts IV”. The song became a viral hit on TikTok, where users created videos using the hashtag #YeeHawChallenge.
The song also sparked controversy when it was removed from the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for not being country enough. This led to debates about genre boundaries and racial discrimination in the music industry. The song gained more popularity when Billy Ray Cyrus joined Lil Nas X for a remix version.
“Old Town Road” broke several records, including the longest-running number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (19 weeks), the most-streamed song in a single week (143 million streams) and the fastest song to be certified diamond by the RIAA (10 million units sold). The song also won two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video.
Lil Nas X followed up his success with more songs that explored different genres and themes, such as “Panini”, “Rodeo”, “Holiday” and “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”. In September 2021, he released his debut album Montero , which featured guest appearances from Elton John, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Miley Cyrus.
Lil Nas X explained that his stage name was inspired by his internet alias “Lil Nas”, which he added an “X” to when he became more serious about music. He said that the “X” represents the unknown and the infinite. He also joked that his name was a tribute to Nas, Lil Wayne and DMX.
Nas and Lil Nas X: The Collaboration
Despite having no relation, Nas and Lil Nas X have crossed paths and collaborated on music. In January 2020, Nas joined Lil Nas X on stage at the 62nd Grammy Awards to perform a remix of “Rodeo”, a song from Lil Nas X’s EP 7 . The remix featured a new verse from Nas and was released on streaming platforms the next day.
The collaboration was well-received by fans and critics, who praised the chemistry and respect between the two artists. Nas said that he was impressed by Lil Nas X’s creativity and originality, while Lil Nas X said that he was honored to work with one of his idols.
Nas and Lil Nas X have also shown support for each other on social media. Nas congratulated Lil Nas X on his debut album Montero , while Lil Nas X thanked Nas for his influence and inspiration.
Nas and Lil Nas X are not related by blood or by name. They are two distinct artists who have made their mark on rap music in different ways. However, they have also shown admiration and appreciation for each other’s work and have collaborated on a song together. They are both examples of how rap music can evolve and transcend boundaries.