Long before he was the Billboard Hot 100 record-breaking, Grammy- and VMA-winning megastar maestro behind “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X was a Barb. Still is, in fact. The difference is now he’s a Barb with influence — and on Tuesday night (June 16), he used it to tweet at Nicki Minaj herself to ask if she’d appear on a song of his.
This led a fellow Barb to ask, “How come you never claimed her when people asked if you were a barb?? We all knew who you were.” The question digs back into Lil Nas X’s past as the voice behind a popular Twitter account, one he was able to utilize to help “Old Town Road” go stratospheric. As Intelligencer’s Brian Feldman noted in 2019, “By trafficking in memes, viral threads, engagement bait, and Nicki Minaj stanning, Lil Nas X was able to create a six-digit follower base on Twitter, and it was that platform that served as a springboard for ‘Old Town Road.'”
But as the song was exploding, Lil Nas X’s team denied his involvement with the account, and by association, his Barb standom. It’s something the artist addressed in response to his fellow Barb’s tweet, writing, “i didn’t want people to know i was gay tbh.”
When another fan clarified that “being a barb don’t make you gay,” Lil Nas X expanded on his message: “it don’t but people will assume if you had an entire fan page dedicated to nicki u are gay. and the rap/music industry ain’t exactly built or accepting of gay men yet.” He added in a follow-up quote-tweet that it “was never anything personal.”
In fact, when “Old Town Road” first took off, Lil Nas X had not publicly come out. He waited until the song was firmly planted at No. 1 last June during Pride Month make the announcement on Twitter, pointing to messages in his song “C7osure.” “some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more,” he tweeted in June 2019, “but before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure. 🌈”
Minaj herself didn’t respond directly to Lil Nas X’s request to hop on his song. However, she did reply to the conversation playing out in her mentions, addressing Lil Nas X by name. “It was a bit of a sting when you denied being a barb, but I understand,” she wrote. “Congratulations on building up your confidence to speak your truth. @LilNasX”
Lil Nas X, in turn, replied to apologize. “the generous queen, i love u. and i’m sorry i did that in a time where u were already getting so much bandwagon hate,” he wrote. “i felt so bad, hoping u wouldn’t see my denial. i was just so afraid of people finding out about me and losing everything before i even got a chance.”
Minaj’s latest song is “Trollz,” a collaboration with Tekashi 6ix9ine. Lil Nas X, meanwhile, tweeted in May that his next album was “82 [percent] DONE.” Maybe there’s still room in that final 18 percent for a Minaj team-up after all.