When music megastar Lil Nas X was a teen experimenting with music and memes online, he didn’t need a TV show like “American Idol” to build his following. But he’s got a whole lot of respect and gratitude for someone who did: one of “Idol’s” most successful alumni, Adam Lambert. In an exclusive interview with Heavy on October 21, 2022, Nas revealed he’s talked with the singer, and hopes to open doors for other artists the way Lambert and other music icons did for him.
Lil Nas X Talked With Adam Lambert About His Support
In the three years since Lil Nas X burst onto the music scene with his record-breaking hit, “Old Town Road,” the 23-year-old has become a pop culture phenomenon: he’s one of the most streamed artists on the planet, the Wall Street Journal has dubbed him the “New King of Pop” and he’s become both a beacon of hope and a lightning rod for criticism by playing up his status as the world’s most popular performer who’s black, male and openly gay — a still-daring trifecta in mainstream music, but one that Nas has intentionally and creatively mastered.
One person who’s paid close attention to Nas’ career path is Adam Lambert, who was runner-up on “American Idol” in 2009 and came out to Rolling Stone shortly after. When Lambert kissed his male keyboardist during the American Music Awards that year, it was seen as so risqué that he was banned from ABC for a while. More than a decade later, Lil Nas X made headlines and raised some eyebrows over his 2021 kiss with a male dancer on the 2021 BET Awards, but supporters say he’s just helping to normalize what use to be taboo.
“I thought it was hot,” Lambert told Billboard at the time of Lil Nas X’s onstage kiss. “He’s really giving it to us. I think he is definitely like the gay pop star that is 2021 — he’s bold, he’s controversial, he’s pushing boundaries. That’s what we want our pop stars to do. It’s just taken this long to have it be a gay one.”
In the February 2022 issue of Attitude Magazine, he praised Nas again during an interview with Boy George, saying that the young artist has not just been moving the needle, but “pushing it.”
“Someone like Lil Nas, he’s a proper star at this point, lots of hits, streams, eyes on him,” Lambert said. “He’s not afraid of controversy, to get in people’s faces, challenge people. He’s on Twitter, clapping back. It’s brilliant, funny, irreverent, confident.”
Lil Nas X exclusively told Heavy that those kinds of comments from Lambert have been meaningful to him; so much so that he’s thanked the “Idol” alum in person for his cheerleading.
“I know Adam, we’ve met a couple of times,” Nas said. “I did thank him in person, actually. I really appreciate all the love that he’s shown me and I definitely don’t take it for granted. And I appreciate all the doors that him and people like him opened.”
While the “STAR WALKIN'” singer may be following in Lambert’s footsteps in some ways, Nas says he never thought about finding fame the same way he did, on a show like “American Idol.”
“Not at all,” he told Heavy. “I mean, I started doing music in 2018, and by that time I realized the only thing you really needed to become successful in the music industry is the internet, you know? For me, I use what works best for me. I’ve always been an internet baby. And what better place than to blow up in my home? Yeah, that’s what works for me.”
Lil Nas X Hopes New M&Ms Collaboration Helps Other Young Music Makers
When Lil Nas X — born Montero Lamar Hill — was growing up in Atlanta, he loved music but couldn’t imagine breaking into the industry, let alone being so popular he could meet his idols or have his face appear on M&Ms, as they do as part of a new collaboration with Mars Inc.
“When I was little, I loved music a lot, but I was very afraid to ever actually jump into that,” he told Heavy, adding that he didn’t realize his true potential until his late teens as he figured out how to create and release his own music and people began reacting positively to his songs and memes online. Plus, he said, he couldn’t shake the sense his music was meant to be heard.
“I guess there’s like an overwhelming feeling that you have when you’re just, like, sure about what you want to do and what you want to be,” he said. “I had felt that for the first time in music and I could never let that feeling go. That’s what drove me, I feel.”
It’s part of why Nas is passionate about helping other young people gain easy access to arts programs and resources.
“I feel like music should be accessible in as many places as possible because I feel like it’s a world healer,” he said,” and I think everybody deserves that.”
Nas has teamed up with M&Ms to create collectible boxes that colorfully commemorate his Long Live Montero concert tour and contain a one-pound blend of pastel candies featuring images of his face, butterflies and heart graphics, available for $39.99 while supplies last.
Available online, $5 from every purchase — up to $100,000 — will be donated to the nonprofit Sing For Hope, which strives to make the arts accessible to all. The money will benefit the organization’s project that places celebrity-inspired, painted pianos in public spaces to encourage impromptu music-making.
Two artists from New York’s Gay and Lesbian Youth Pride Chorus co-designed a rainbow-colored piano inspired by Lil Nas X for the project; it’s been on display at Radio City Music Hall and in Times Square and will be donated to Newark Pride Inc. Lil Nas X kicked off the collaboration by meeting with youth from Songs For Hope in September.
In the same way Lambert and others opened doors for him, Nas hopes he’s doing the same for future artists. For young people hoping to follow in his footsteps, he said is biggest tip is to let mistakes become teachers instead of roadblocks.
“My honest advice is to really learn how to be okay with messing up and failing a lot of the time to evolve,” he said. “It’s gonna be hard, but it’s going to help you a lot.”