Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” has taken the music world by the storm. The song — a banjo and 808-laden trap/country hybrid banger — first achieved popularity on the short music video making app and Gen Z haven TikTok. From there, it exploded into full-blown virality and for a period of time was the internet’s meme du jour. The yeehaw frenzy that Nas stoked was so great, the track became the first in history to chart on both Billboard’s Rap and Country charts. Like nearly all record-breaking feats, however, this one did not come without its controversy.
Not long after “Old Town Road” achieved double charting status, Billboard removed the song from its Hot Country Songs chart, explaining that they felt the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music.” This response drew the ire of many on the internet, including prominent musicians like Moses Sumney, who noted that many of the other tracks on the Hot Country Songs chart were not conventional country songs either and that, in fact, some of them carried a significant hip-hop influence. Many, instead, credited Billboard’s decision to the fact that unlike all the other entrants on the chart, Lil Nas X is both black and nominally a rapper.
Another musician who spoke out in support of Nas was none other than Billy Ray Cyrus. On March 15, the country posted a message to Instagram that read, ‘”Don’t try and think inside the box. Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box.” #HorsesInTheBack’ — the last part being a reference to the now-infamous chorus of “Old Town Road.”
Cyrus, however, didn’t stop there. On Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported that the 57-year-old would be joining Lil Nas X on the first official “Old Town Road” remix. The country star accompanied the announcement with Instagram shout out to Nas. Cyrus posted a screenshot of the chart data tweet which declared that “‘Old Town Road’ would have hit #1 on this week’s Billboard Hot Country Songs chart had it not been removed.” In the caption to the photo Cyrus wrote. “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!”
The song is set to premiere at midnight.