On Friday, the internet reacted to one of the most controversial and widely celebrated remix releases in recent memory. Country star and former Disney dad Billy Ray Cyrus decided to lend his voice to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the song that, in a matter of months, has transformed from a meme-friendly internet obsession to a chart-topping hit.
The song became the subject of controversy when, late last month, Billboard removed it from its Hot Country Songs chart, citing their opinion that the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.” For his part, Cyrus didn’t seem to agree with Billboard’s judgment at all.
“It was so obvious to me after hearing the song just one time. I was thinking, what’s not country about it?” the 57-year-old wrote on Twitter. Many others online seem to share Cyrus’s perspective, and some felt that Billboard’s decision to remove the song from the chart could have possibly been racially motivated. Nas himself posited a less charged theory for why he felt his song had been targeted in this way. “Whenever you’re trying something new, it’s always going to get some kind of bad reception,” he told Time.
Despite all the commotion it caused, the song seems to have to fostered camaraderie between Cyrus and Nas. “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,” the 19-year-old rapper wrote on Twitter on Friday. In the same aforementioned tweet thread, Cyrus told fans he loved the memes and gave a simple rationale for why he thought “Old Town Road” was as much a country song as any other, “What’s the rudimentary element of a country and western song? …it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do ya need?”