Is it country enough for you now?
SoundCloud rapper Lil Nas X made headlines earlier this year when his song “Old Town Road” went viral. The track, which samples Nine Inch Nails’ 34 Ghosts IV, is mixed with what some might call a “country-trap” beat and makes direct references to The Red Dead Redemption 2 video game.
The song has gotten so popular, it’s been given the green light from country artists like Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley.
While “Old Town Road”—labeled as a country on SoundCloud—initially debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, it was later removed because “it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music.”
Disappointed by the news, Lil Nas X did the only thing he could do and recruited the OG country hitmaker himself, Billy Ray Cyrus.
Lil Nas X is releasing a remix of "Old Town Road" with country veteran Billy Ray Cyrus after he was told the song wasn’t country enough for Billboard's country chart 😤 https://t.co/FEjL5AqOlX
— XXL Magazine (@XXL) April 4, 2019
Cyrus announces himself immediately on the song by singing the first hook, “I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road. I’m gonna ride ‘til I can’t no more.” The ‘Acky Breaky Heart’ artist then returns towards the end of the banjo-heavy single emphasizing the track’s topics of fancy jewelry, expensive cars and living a stress-free life.
and he murdered the shit https://t.co/vpoVYt8kpT
— nope 🏹 (@LilNasX) April 4, 2019
Cyrus doesn’t directly address the birther-esque dispute surrounding OTR but it has since been a hot topic of discussion considering how white artists are notorious for galivanting across genres. Most notable being Cyrus’ equally famous daughter Miley Cyrus, who had a brief relationship with Hip Hop.
Miley “distanced” herself from the genre back in 2017 telling XXL magazine that “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c**k’—I am so not that.” Fast forward to 2019, Miley tells Complex that her new album will have more hip-hop leaning records on it.
— Britt Julious (@britticisms) May 4, 2017
Alas, it’s easy for Miley’s music to be considered hip-hop with help from friends like Mike Will Made It and others. Yet in the case of Lil Nas X, despite the banjos, country references, and a country accent—it just isn’t country enough for Billboard. Perhaps that’s all X was a missing—a Billie Ray verse.
“Old Town Road” currently holds the Number 15 spot on the latest Hot 100. The track continues to stream this week — it’s currently the only song on Spotify’s Top 5 in the U.S. not by Billie Eilish.
It’s also gaining support from pop radio: 39 new stations added the song this week, according to Nielsen BDS.