Last month, “Old Town Road,” the newest song by a 19-year-old rapper named Lil Nas X, grabbed enough attention and listeners on the Internet, specifically on an app called TikTok where users can create video clips and set them to music, it began to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100, Hot Country Songs, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
Not too long after that, Billboard decided to quietly remove “Old Town Road” from its Hot Country Songs chart.
Their reason for doing this, according to a statement from Billboard released 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. 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.”
I mean…I don’t recall anything like this ever happening to Taylor Swift’s music as it slowly but surely began transforming from country music to pop, but I’m sure the Comments section will correct me if I’m wrong.
Many people called out this bullshit for how unfair it clearly was, and pointed out how it was another example of how troublesome the country music industry is when it comes to younger artists, younger artists who aren’t men, and younger artists who aren’t White men. From Trevor Noah on The Daily Show to this very informative thread about the country music industry and how truly racist it is and has been.
Hi. Former country music label person here.@LilNasX was kicked off the Billboard country charts because the (mainstream) terrestrial country music market is filled to a surfeit with racism and bigotry.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
Allow me to explain…
Using @billboard's justifications for saying "Old Town Road" doesn't contain enough country elements, I could just as easily say "GIRL" by @MarenMorris doesn't belong on the Billboard Country charts.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
I love "GIRL" by Maren Morris. But it is, objectively speaking, a pop song.
What's the difference between Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris and Lil Nas X?— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
Lil Nas X doesn't play guitar.
Well, I mean, he still doesn't play guitar, but the real problem here is that Lil Nas X is a black man, from Black Hollywood, AKA Atlanta.
Lil Nas X is no different than Ray Charles in 1962.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
He's taking country sounds that already exist, and making them better.
Ray Charles, a black man, re-recorded "I Can't Stop Loving You" and it went to #1 on the Pop Charts.
There has always been a rift between black people and county music. In 1963, Ray Charles reached #1 on the Pop Charts (again) with his rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" — a song that was formerly a traditional country tune.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
Ray Charles just made an objectively better version.
This same week in 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace delivered his infamous "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" speech.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
Billboard started their Hot 100 in 1958. The Top Country songs started in 1964.
A black man didn't make it to #1 until 2008.
In the past, @kanebrown has tweeted (and deleted) his thoughts about the racism in Nashville.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
"some people in Nashville who have pub deals won’t write with me because I’m black"
Why delete it? Politics. Kane Brown is on tenuous footing as a black man in a racist industry.
By removing Lil Nas X from the Country Charts, the powers that be (and yes, I'm openly saying the Country music industry operates like the mafia) continue what they want country music to sound like, and more importantly… LOOK like.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
Because this isn't about sound. At all.
Lil Nas X made a song that is country enough to be country, and trap enough to be trap.— Shane Morris (@IamShaneMorris) March 30, 2019
That should be something we celebrate, as an unknown artist rode a TikTok meme to fame, and brought two audiences together.
Instead, Billboard was like, "Nah, let's be racist as fuck."
This situation was very reminiscent of what Beyoncé went through with her single, “Daddy Lessons” from her album Lemonade. It was submitted to the Grammys for consideration in their Country categories, but wasn’t nominated due to the Recording Academy’s country music committee rejecting the song.
But in the immortal words of Beyoncé, Lil Nas X remembered to stay gracious because the best revenge is your paper. For the remix to “Old Town Road,” he worked with someone who would make it nearly impossible to deny that his song is country music and deserves to be considered as such. That someone was Billy Ray Cyrus.
billy ray really went crazy on old town road— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
The remix to “Old Town Road” dropped last night, and not only did Black Twitter like what they heard, they liked how Lil Nas X went Peppermint Petty/Petty Jenkins/Petty LaBelle in making Billboard look even more ridiculous.
it’s perfection. There’s literally nothing else I can say 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/DK1v086RPu— Clarkisha Kent (@IWriteAllDay_) April 5, 2019
Put It In Ya Mouf: Lil Nas X Gets Billy Ray Cyrus On "Old Town Road" Remix After Bigoty Billboard Bounced His Good Ol' Boy Banger From Caucasian-Commandeered Country Charts— Bossip (@Bossip) April 4, 2019
(Image via Danielle Del Valle)https://t.co/sFQtiJiWbm pic.twitter.com/325tsC5qzp
billboard: sorry not country enough— Hamoo (@Hamoo1ven) April 5, 2019
billy ray cyrus: HOWDY
Tried to remove it from Billboard’s Hot Country, and made it the hottest song in the country.— KYLE A.B. (@kyalbr) April 5, 2019
Ain’t that bout a bitch. pic.twitter.com/OOj63kuTww
Me showing up to work this morning blasting that Billy Ray verse pic.twitter.com/zaNkZgUlsN— Darijo Djuric (@darijorozayy) April 5, 2019
Me whenever I hear country music:😒— Patty (@RealPattyWap) April 5, 2019
Me listening to the Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus remix of old town road pic.twitter.com/qhuGd6uCHz
😂Lil Nas X re-entering the country charts now that he got Billy Ray Cyrus like… pic.twitter.com/8yAETFM8XE— ✈️KOFIMANIA (@willyonce99) April 5, 2019
Billboard:*removes Old Town Road from country charts*— MT Hussle🧸 (@mtldn3) April 5, 2019
Billy Ray Cyrus: I’m doing a remix of Old Town Road!
Old Town Road on repeat. pic.twitter.com/EkOCDXZpYP— Charles Pulliam-Moore (@CharlesPulliam) April 5, 2019
When Billboard takes Old Town Road off the country charts: pic.twitter.com/X16FlZJqzx— Natural Light (@naturallight) April 5, 2019
Black Twitter got damn Billy Ray Cyrus trending on Beyoncé’s Internet. And I’m here for it…as long as Miley keeps her ass at home. pic.twitter.com/j3SZ2WcN85— Kellee Terrell (@kelleent) April 5, 2019
The last time that Black Twitter was this enthusiastic about country music was in 2016 when Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” at the CMA Awards alongside the Dixie Chicks, who are all too familiar with the disrespect and vitriol that a country-music artist can get for not making nice and for not following tradition.
Lil Nas X was clearly very happy about having Billy Ray’s support, and Billy Ray was just as happy and willing to offer it.
billy caught me in the studio while i was geeked and gave me some words of inspiration 😓 pic.twitter.com/4kaYp32A63— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
billy ray came to my studio session last night and gave me one of the most uplifting talks i have ever heard in my life. shit almost brought me to tears like deadass.— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
.@LilNasX Been watching everything going on with OTR. When I got thrown off the charts, Waylon Jennings said to me “Take this as a compliment” means you’re doing something great! Only Outlaws are outlawed. Welcome to the club!— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) April 3, 2019
Now all we need in this life of sin is for Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Matthew Rhys to appear in the video and show off his line-dancing skills in his finest pair of cowboy boots. It would be a wonderful sight to see, even if Keri Russell would be sitting at home and responding to her partner’s onscreen antics like so…
Header Image Source: CNN