Los Angeles, CA – Lil Nas X experienced a meteoric rise to fame after his 2019 hit “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus became the fastest single to be certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After numerous Grammy Awards, Billboard Awards, BET Awards, several platinum plaques and a few controversies sprinkled in between, the 22-year-old rapper has breached the upper echelon of the music industry, rubbing shoulders with the elite.

On Saturday (December 4), Lil Nas X attended Variety magazine’s Hitmakers Brunch in Los Angeles’ Fashion District where he was honored with the Innovator of the Year Award. Presented by Chloe Bailey of Chloe X Halle fame, the award presentation was a well deserved moment for Lil Nas X who has become a leading voice for the LGBTQ+ community as well as a mental health advocate.

But being the savvy internet troll he is, Lil Nas X also joked about how much fun he had “pissing people off” this year while accepting his award. Whether it was his pregnancy photo shoot for the MONTERO album cover, blood-tinged “Satan Shoes” or his lap dance on Satan’s lap for the “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” video, he had Christian conservatives clutching their proverbial pearls all across the world.

While the comment elicited plenty of laughs, Lil Nas X’s speech took a more serious tone when he talked about the pressure he felt trying to follow up such a massive hit like “Old Town Road.”

“As many of you know, it’s been a pretty crazy year; it’s been a pretty fun year,” he said. “I had a lot of fun psising people off, no I’m kidding, I’m kidding. This year took a lot of mental strength for me just to even continue to keep pushing after my debut reached such a high place so quickly.

“It’s very scary to try to follow up and keep it going, but I came out. I was myself. I did what I needed to do. I put effort into every single part of my career. I’m super thankful for this award. I’m thankful for this year. I’m thankful to be here with all these people who inspire me. I’m thankful for my team … Thank you Jack Harlow in the audience right now. Thank you guys. I love you.”

Lil Nas X also talked about how hard it was to follow up Bailey’s introduction. During her time on the mic, the R&B singer praised Lil Nas X for being true to himself.

“There could not be a more appropriate honor for Lil Nas X,” she said. “He has embodied the spirit of courage while also representing the culture authentically and beautifully. Maybe once in a generation an artist comes along and literally changes the world for the better. By being exactly who he is and commanding attention, by creating a universe that is both undeniable and exceptionally entertaining, he’s kicked in the door.”

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“Yes, he has smashed records. Yes, he has broken down barriers. He delivers creatively like no other and that makes him so deserving of this: innovator of the year.”

Pusha T, Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” collaborator Jack Harlow, City Girls, Lana Del Rey, producer Mike Dean, Billie Eilish, John Mayer and Normani were among the many who attended the star-studded event. Find more photos here.