This article contains opinion.
Imagine: You’re at a bonfire this spring.
No, scratch that.
You’re at Wolfie’s Country Night when you hear it.
“But, it can’t be,” you think to yourself as you finish your remaining $7 vodka cranberry bucket.
Oh, but it is. Country has met rap, and its name is “Old Town Road.”
Traditional country music fans were distained when country music duo Florida Georgia Line began shaking up the country music scene in the early 2010s with pop-sounding choruses and features from hip-hop artists like Nelly and Jason Derulo.
But if they only knew what was to come down the old town road.
Lil Nas X, a 20-year-old rapper from Atlanta released his rap, country song “Old Town Road” Dec. 3.
After the song became increasingly popular on TikTok, the social video sharing app, Lil Nas X signed with Colombia Records, which now distributes the song.
The song continued to trend as Texas Tech’s men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA’s National Championship game, celebrating every victory with “Old Town Road.”
After working its way up to No. 19 on Billboard’s Hot Country Chart, Billboard removed the song after releasing the following statement:
“Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard's country charts. When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version.”
Following Billboard’s statement, Apple Music and Spotify also removed the song from their country charts.
While Lil Nas X is now known for attempting to trailblaze the country/rap genre, he was far from the first to take a crack at it.
On Jason Aldean’s 2010 hit “Dirt Road Anthem,” listeners can find Aldean’s first attempt at some twangy-sounding rap verses. The song, written by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford, a man who’s made his entire career in the country, rap genre, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country chart and became the best-selling song by a male country solo artist in digital history with more than 4 million downloads.
After Aldean’s continued effort to occasionally incorporate rap into his music, other country artists followed the trend.
Granger Smith did it with his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. Keith Urban did it in 2016 when Pitbull and Nile Rodgers joined him on the track “Sun Don’t Let me Down” off his 2016 album “Ripcord.”
And lesser-known artist Dallas Davidson had his first and only breakthrough hit, “Laid Back,” make some noise when he added rap artist Big Boi to one of the verses.
Some would argue that Blake Shelton’s 2013 ”Boys Round Here (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends)” also had elements of rap/country throughout the song.
But it seems that Lil Nas X took country, rap to a whole new level, sounding closer to rap than country. Some even suggested that his song mocked country music.
But that’s not how dozens of other artists saw Lil Nas X’s work as they showed support across various social media platform, including country singer and father of Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus.
In fact, Cyrus felt so strongly about “Old Town Road” that he and Lil Nas X released the first official remix April 5.
Currently, “Old Town Road Remix feat. Billy Ray Cyrus” and the original are leading Apple Music’s charts, sitting at the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
It also finds itself No. 1 and No. 3 on Spotify’s charts, as well.