Lil Nas X brings in Cyrus to boost country cred
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.