An Epic Performance and 2 Wins: Lil Nas X's Big Night at the Grammys

Lil Nas X - Grammys 2020 - Getty - H 2020
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The "Old Town Road" rapper ended his first time at the 62nd annual awards show with some substantial victories.

It was a good night for Lil Nas X at his first-ever Grammys. At the 62nd annual awards ceremony, held Sunday night at Los Angeles' Staples Center, the 20-year-old rapper gave an epic performance of his record-breaking hit "Old Town Road" and took home a set of substantial wins.

By the time he hit the stage for a star-studded rendition of "Old Town Road" with Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, K-pop superstars BTS and teenage yodeling sensation Mason Ramsey — plus a live debut of "Rodeo," his new joint single with Nas — Lil Nas X had already won best music video and best pop duo/group performance. (In those categories, Lil Nas X beat out competition such as Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Tove Lo and the Jonas Brothers.)

After his onstage medley, Lil Nas X took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the opportunity to perform live with his collaborators: "BIGG BIGGGG THANK YOU TO BTS, MASON RAMSEY, DIPLO, BILLY RAY CYRUS, & NAS!!!"

Ellen DeGeneres, who welcomed Lil Nas X onto her talk show last year, introduced his performance on Sunday night with some kind sentiments about his decision to come out as gay even before the peak of success for "Old Town Road" — which eventually went on to become the longest charting No. 1 in the history of the Billboard Hot 100.

"Unwavering in the face of prejudice," DeGeneres said, "he told the world that we was gay and then he became an inspiration to millions of young people around the world."

In a cover story for Time magazine, published in August, Lil Nas X opened up about that decision, revealing that the LGBTQ community's celebrations of love during Pride month inspired him to share his truth with those beyond his immediate family.  

"I know the people who listen to this the most, and they're not accepting of homosexuality," he said at the time, explaining that he once worried he might lose fans if he freely acknowledged his sexuality. "I never would have done that if I wasn't in a way pushed by the universe. In June, I'm seeing Pride flags everywhere and seeing couples holding hands — little stuff like that."

In her Grammys introduction for Lil Nas X, DeGeneres — who is openly gay herself and a dedicated advocate of the LGBTQ community — went on to call the artist "courageous, brave and groundbreaking."

Lil Nas X also scored nominations for record of the year (for "Old Town Road"), best new artist, album of the year (for his first studio LP, 7) and best rap/sung performance for his sophomore single, "Panini." However, he lost record of the year to Billie Eilish; best new artist to Eilish; album of the year to Eilish; and best rap/sung performance to John Legend, DJ Khaled and the late Nipsey Hussle.