When metro Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X rode his horse down “Old Town Road,” he wore black boots, Wrangler jeans and a “cowboy hat by Gucci,”as his hit song goes.
Despite the country attire, the rural theme and its debut on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, “Old Town Road” has been declared not country enough. Billboard removed the song from its chart. The tune debuted on the Hot 100, the Hot Country Songs and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts at the same time, according to Rolling Stone.
“Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard‘s country charts,” Billboard said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “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.”
“The current version” was remixed with country music veteran Billy Ray Cyrus playing guitar and joining the Lithia Springs High School grad, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, on vocals.
Though it was removed from the Hot Country charts April 9, which was also Hill’s birthday, the viral “country trap” song “ reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“I loved the song the first time I heard it. Country music fans decide what they like. Not critics or anyone else,” Cyrus said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “Waylon Jennings once told me every once in a while the industry outlaws someone because they’re different. Country music fans don’t need to be defined by critics. I’ve always said, don’t think inside the box, don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box. So, I’m honored to collaborate with Lil Nas X on ‘Old Town Road.'"
Watch the video below, then let us know what you think.
Billboard’s decision to remove the song from its country chart has sparked controversy about what defines a country song — and what Billboard’s motives might really have been.