Lil Nas X has been turning the country music scene on its head. As he tweeted back in December, country music is evolving — and the 19-year-old is at the forefront of this evolution. The single “Old Town Road” currently tops the Spotify United States Top 50 and global Apple Music charts, according to Time.
The country/rap mashup has even inspired the viral #yeehaw challenge where fans country-fy themselves using the app TikTok. But despite the song’s popularity with both fans of country and rap music, Billboard pulled the song from their Hot Country Songs chart, citing the song wasn’t classified as country. According to Rolling Stone, a representative from Columbia Records (Lil Nas X’s label) said the initial inclusion of “Old Town Road” was a mistake.
Lil Nas X spoke out about his removal from the Billboard country charts in an interview with Time. When asked if he thought the move had racial undertones, he replied, “Whenever you’re trying something new, it’s always going to get some kind of bad reception.” He went on to say that he credits Young Thug for creating the genre. “When rap started, or when rock and roll began. But with country trap, I in no way want to take credit for that. I believe Young Thug would be one of the biggest pioneers in that.”
In an official statement released by Billboard, the publication explained their decision to remove the song from their Hot 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.”
But Lil Nas X disagrees with Billboard. He believes the song should chart on both the country and hip-hop lists. “The song is country trap. It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both. It should be on both.”
Watch the music video for “Old Country Road.”