Lil Nas X brings in Cyrus to boost coun­try cred

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - — NEW YORK TIMES

When Lil Nas X ,a young black hip-hop artist from At­lanta, cre­ated the sur­prise hit “Old Town Road,” he did not imag­ine that it would end up at the cen­ter of a de­bate on race, the Nashville, Ten­nessee, es­tab­lish­ment and mu­si­cal gen­res.

The track mar­ries a beat fa­mil­iar to hip-hop fans with acous­tic sounds and lyrics filled with cow­boy im­agery. Lil Nas X had no record deal when he made it, and the song bub­bled up on the in­ter­net be­fore it made three dif­fer­ent Bill­board charts: the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Coun­try Songs.

Once it was a suc­cess, Bill­board re­moved it from its coun­try chart. On Fri­day, in what seemed to be a dare to Bill­board and Nashville, Lil Nas X re­leased a new ver­sion of the song that in­cluded 1990s coun­try star Billy Ray Cyrus as a fea­tured vo­cal­ist.

When Bill­board ban­ished “Old Town Road” from the coun­try chart, it is­sued a state­ment to Rolling Stone claim­ing the song “does not em­brace enough el­e­ments of to­day’s coun­try mu­sic to chart in its cur­rent ver­sion.” With Cyrus along for the ride, it is pos­si­ble that coun­try ra­dio sta­tions that ig­nored it will start play­ing it.

The remixed ver­sion of “Old Town Road,” with vo­cals from Cyrus, the singer of the 1992 hit “Achy Breaky Heart,” came to­gether two weeks ago, Lil Nas said. The fin­ish­ing touches were added Thurs­day night, hours be­fore it was re­leased and went vi­ral all over again.

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