The "Old Town Road" rapper breaks the long-standing 16-week record jointly shared by Carey's Boyz II Men collaboration "One Sweet Day" and Daddy Yankee and Louis Fonsi's "Despacito."
At just 20 years old, Lil Nas X has made a huge mark for himself on the Billboard charts with his first single, and one of the chart legends was quick to offer her congratulations, even as he unseated her nearly 24-year-old record.
Taking to Instagram on Monday night after Nas X notched his 17th consecutive week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with "Old Town Road," Mariah Carey took to her Instagram page with words of praise for his accomplishment.
"Sending love & congrats to @lilnasx on breaking one of the longest running records in music history!" Carey wrote. "We've been blessed to hold this record with a song that means a great deal to @BoyzIIMen and myself and has touched so many."
Released on November 14, 1995, "One Sweet Day" was a powerhouse collaboration between Carey and Boyz II Men, two of the hottest acts of the era. A monumental smash hit at the time, the song was even performed at Princess Diana's funeral service.
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But perhaps the best thing about Carey's tribute to Lil Nas X's achievement is that she did it with a Photoshop job that somehow manages to be both earnestly awful and sincerely sweet at the same time.
"One Sweet Day will always hold a special place in my heart and I want to thank anyone who's ever told me how this song has affected them and their loved ones," Carey continued, urging Nas X to "keep living your best life!"
Lil Nas X responded to the social media post on Twitter, writing, "Wowwww thank you so much mariah! you are a legend and an icon and I'm blessed to even have you acknowledging me right now! Growing up to your music & now having you talk to me directly is unreal!"
wowwww thank you so much mariah! you are a legend and an icon and i'm blessed to even have you acknowledging me right now! growing up to your music & now having you talk to me directly is unreal! ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/b9v5JEmFIy
The record is especially sweet for Lil Nas X, who struggled with airplay early in the single's launch when it was pulled from country music radio and Billboard removed it from its country charts, despite it's clear country trap inspiration.
According to an article on Billboard, the organization "removed the song for several reasons, including its trap beat, a lack of country airplay, no involvement by Sony Music Nashville and mixed categorization and playlisting on leading streaming services."
Even a collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus on a remix of the track fared no better, thought it certainly raised the profile of the song and the artist.
Complicating matters further for both the country music and hip-hop genres, Lil Nas X came out as gay in June. Both genres have had their perceived struggles accepting and embracing people from the LGBTQ+ community. Nevertheless, through all of these developments, "Old Town Road" just continued soaring.
Strategically, Lil Nas X released several remixes along the way, including last week's "Seoul Town Road" with J-Pop phenomenon BTS member RM. If a remix doesn't stray too far from the original, Billboard combines its data with the original track when determining rankings on its various charts, so Lil Nas X's remix efforts could certainly be argued to have helped him achieve this record.
Released just a couple of years ago, another unlikely smash hit nearly dethroned Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, but Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi had to settle for a tie at 16 weeks with "Despacito." Like Lil Nas X, it was a remix version of the track -- in this case featuring Justin Bieber -- that helped "Despacito" set the charts on fire.
As a Spanish-language track, it's remarkable that "Despacito" was able to show such staying power. It was the first Spanish-language track since the "Macarena" to have that kind of impact on the predominantly English Hot 100. "Despacito" did even better on the Latin chart, staying at number one for an epic 56 weeks.
For now, Lil Nas X sits alone atop the heap with the longest consecutive run atop the Billboard Hot 100. Now it's just a question of whether or not he'll extend his lead and stick around 18 weeks or more. Only time will tell.