A 17-year-old from a small Georgia town built an audience as a rapper on TikTok and SoundCloud before pivoting to country music and inching his way into a notoriously cloistered industry.

Kidd G was 11 years old when his older brother, Dustin, got his first car. Dustin wasn’t quite old enough to drive it yet, but he could use it to listen to music, and he and his younger brother would sit in the front seat for hours, soaking in Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug, Chance the Rapper. Before long, Kidd G was teaching himself to freestyle.

By the time he was 16, Kidd G — born Jonathan Gabriel Horne, Gabe to his friends — was writing his own music: scabrous emo-rap clearly indebted to Juice WRLD, full of rich melodies and ticked-off lyrics.

Last fall, around a year after he began posting songs to SoundCloud and a few months after his 17th birthday, Kidd G cracked the Billboard charts — as a country singer. In October, his single “Dirt Road” — his first attempt at country music — hit No. 40 on hot country songs strictly off streams, an anomaly for that chart, which favors radio hits.

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