lil nas x
(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Lil Nas X is arguably having the best year anyone in hip-hop has had in quite some time.

It’s only August and his “Old Town Road” remains at the top of the Billboard charts and is its longest running No. 1 single ever. To top that off, he’s now nabbed the cover of TIME.

During his photo shoot, 20-year-old rapper and self professed internet troll was decked out in a show-stopping red Phlemuns suit, with a matching red cowboy hat, and cow-print boots.

READ MORE: Are Country Music Awards voters shunning ‘Old Town Road’ nominations?

Shooting to the Top

Not surprisingly, the cover story focuses on his incredibly fast blowup and examines how a “college dropout sleeping on his sister’s floor,” somehow managed such phenomenal success.

The story also notes that despite his seemingly overnight rise to stardom, Nas X (real name: Montero Lamar Hill) is still relatively an outsider. First of all is the fact that there are very few Black faces in country music and just as few LGBTQ stars in hip-hop. So the fact that he has taken the music world by storm is nothing short of miraculous and also a testament to how skillfully he’s curated his social media presence.

“He’s been able to break down cultural barriers as well as pre-existing notions of musical genres,” Ron Perry, the chairman & CEO of Columbia Records, Lil Nas’ label, told TIME. “He has remained authentic and true to his art and this is just the beginning.”

READ MORE: Lil Nas X, the pride of rap, reflects on the culture’s response to his coming out

While his critics seem determined to dismiss him as yet another one hit wonder like the Macarena and the Dougie, when asked how he feels about being such an unlikely – but no less effective – trailblazer, the entertainer seemed at peace with his position.

“Everything lined up for this moment to take me to this place,” he explains. “Not to sound self-centered, but it feels like I’m chosen, in a way, to do this stuff.”

READ MORE: Riding into the Money: 5 fascinating facts about Lil Nas X