After achieving viral notoriety with his track, “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X had his sights set on topping the Billboard charts.
However, after first being included on the Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, Billboard made the decision to pull the song from the country genre ranking, explaining to his label, Columbia Records, that the singer’s inclusion on that specific chart was a mistake.
According to a statement from Billboard, its chart experts determined that the song was not “country enough.” The song–which incorporates lyrical references to cowboy/country imagery over a banjo-laden, trap-leaning instrumental–was deemed to not “embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
In an ultimate rebuttal, Lil Nas X decided to enlist country veteran Billy Ray Cyrus for the song’s official remix. The move, which is being lauded as an expert music industry chess move by fans online, challenges the outdated and arguably racist chart qualifications.
Prior to hopping on the song’s remix, Cyrus offered some words of support to the 19-year-old recording artist on social media.
“@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!,” he wrote, in response to the fact that the song would have hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart if it hadn’t been removed.
Now, days later, Lil Nas X’s aspiration to have Cyrus join him on the track has come fully to fruition.
“Actually, some days after I put the song out, I was like, ‘Everybody help me get Billy Ray Cyrus on this,’” he shared in an interview with Complex. “I kind of knew that it probably wasn’t going to happen, but once I got with Columbia, I had more of an ability to make it happen. … Everybody going to love it.”
Check out the remix for “Old Town Road” and see how how fans are reacting to the strategic collaboration below.