There’s a storm a-brewing in both country and hip hop at the moment, and the gentleman you may know best as Miley’s Dad just threw a ten-gallon hat full of fuel into the fire.
Billboard have been copping it all week for removing a song from the top of its Hot Country chart – after it climbed to #1 on the back of a TikTok meme – for not “embracing” country elements enough.
You’d think a song about horses, tractors, cowboy hats and Wrangler jeans that’s called ‘Old Town Road’ and builds on a slow, lonesome plucked guitar note is giving country a pretty solid hug – but it’s also by an Atlanta artist called Lil Nas X and has a big old trap beat right down the middle, so apparently that cancels out the cowboy tropes.
After an uproar about genre, race and who owns what labels, Lil Nas X came back with a surprise remix featuring none other than Billy Ray Cyrus.
Yes, that’s Cyrus Senior dropping – and I cannot stress this enough – straight fire.
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 7, 2019
billboard: we’re going to be assholes and take your country song off the charts—
billy ray cyrus: pic.twitter.com/W8l2P66DPb
— Rebecca Mix (@rebeccarmix) April 5, 2019
ion think I’m gonna get over Billy Ray dropping the hardest verse of 2019
— Bilbo (@Natty_Wilcox) April 7, 2019
A few days passed and I went to the studio to do vocals.When I finished the pass, I whistled at the end of the song. Thats when the engineer stood up and said, “that shit is fire” We’re keeping that! Glad you gusys are diggin’ the tune, love seeing all your meme’s…. #OTR
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) April 5, 2019
That is some gotdamn wholesome content.
the rumors are true i teared up a little lol pic.twitter.com/w2plXWI7Gy
— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
After the backlash and the incredible response to the remix – including it hitting #1 on US Spotify – Billboard suddenly (heh) changed their tune and said it would revisit whether ‘Old Town Road’ would in fact now be country enough for the country chart.
“Billboard welcomes the excitement created by genre-blending tracks such as Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road; and will continue to monitor how it is marketed and how fans respond,” Billboard told Rolling Stone.
“Our initial decision to remove “Old Town Road” from the Hot Country Songs chart could be revisited as these factors evolve.”
“The song is country trap,” Lil Nas X told TIME when asked whether it belonged on the country or hip hop charts.
“It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both. It should be on both.”
It’s pretty wild how controversial this has been considering how many R&B and hip hop artists have embraced yee-haw energies to various degrees over the years.
Just a few years ago Beyoncé hit us with a New Orleans-flavoured country track in the middle of Lemonade, and then brought the Dixie Chicks on board:
Taylor Swift was as into huge pop synths as guitar-strumming by the time she had Kendrick feature on the far-superior-to-the-original ‘Bad Blood’ remix (which, by the way, didn’t chart on Hot Country, nor should it have), but she’s still one of the biggest country crossover stars ever:
Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg also hang out heaps. Can’t think why.
But the one artist being brought up more than any other in comparison to ‘Old Town Road’ – over and over, you could say – is Nelly.
Can’t forget the “Cruise” remix with Florida Georgia Line. (I really just want to hear Nelly release an album of country bops that alternate with him singing his own hooks and rapping.) pic.twitter.com/4Z8OQDSMN8
— amy (@BOONAPALISTA) April 7, 2019
Nelly & Tim McGraw seeing the genre of music they tried to create be perfected by Lil Nas X & Billy Ray. pic.twitter.com/hetZh3bfoP
— Nawi Lewis (@NawiAndLater) April 5, 2019
Also this 🤣 pic.twitter.com/9exFigOxmI
— Adam Power (@ThisIsAdamPower) April 7, 2019
This is a guy whose international breakout single was called ‘Country Grammar’, after all.
Anyway, we can all agree that the only losers in this truly iconic peak crossover moment in music history are those basics who describe their music taste as “everything except rap and country”.
There are no genre silos any more, Stacey. Hop on this label-free future-horse and ride til you can’t no more.
don’t care if i don’t win no awards or chart placements off this cuz i really believe this is its own moment fr https://t.co/xMPjAdr8ly
— nope (@LilNasX) April 6, 2019