The 19-year-old rapper dropped Old Town Road — a song about being a cowboy and riding horses — only last December. The banjo-sampled trap beat quickly went viral after recirculating over TikTok and various other social media apps.
As a result, it landed a spot on not only Billboard’s “Hot 100 list” but the “Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs” and “Hot Country Songs.”
Billboard, however, decided the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
— Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) April 5, 2019
Old Town Road was quickly removed from the chart, which seemingly left a sour taste in Cyrus’ mouth. The iconic country singer then paid a visit to the rapper’s studio and helped remix the hit-viral single to add more elements of country.
Once more, the song has gone viral and is unexpectedly dominating charts across the globe.
The iconic country singer initially reached out to Lil Nas X over Twitter. “When I got thrown off the charts, Waylon Jennings said to me, ‘Take this as a compliment,'” he said.
“It means you’re doing something great,” he continued. “Only outlaws are outlawed. Welcome to the club!”
.@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
Shortly after, the Atlanta-based rapper posted the brand new version of the song across all platforms. It featured a classic crooning Cyrus along with lyrics that are sure to have Billboard rethink its decision.
“I’m gonna take my horse to the Old Town Road,” sings Cyrus. “I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more. Baby’s gotta have a diamond ring and Fendi sports bras. Riding down Rodeo with my Maserati sports car.”
An excited Lil Nas X took to Twitter shortly after its release expressing his gratitude towards his fans and the 57-year-old Cyrus.
“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,” he revealed. “S**t almost brought me to tears.”
so the universe just gone make this the best day of my life huh https://t.co/hgrXcaEoOL
— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
“A year ago today,” continued the rapper in a later tweet, “I was in college for some s**t I knew I didn’t want to do, but today, I have the biggest song in the world with Billy f**kin’ Ray Cyrus.”
“Life can change quick,” he concluded. “This s**t insane.”
After being dropped by Billboard, Old Town Road sparked a huge amount of controversy.
Thousands of social media users began pointing fingers at the industry giant claiming its decision was based on the rapper’s race.
In response, a Billboard spokesperson claimed to Genius, “Billboard’s decision to take the song off of the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist.”
A further statement continued: “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.”
In response to Billboard, fans began posting viral memes to Twitter in support of Lil Nas X and Cyrus.
Here’s what some users had to say:
— m-y-k (@mykoffthemic) April 5, 2019
Me when I heard Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X harmonizing over an 808 this morning. pic.twitter.com/YeJDAsMARO
— Jaylen (@jd8_14) April 5, 2019
Billboard to Lil Nas X: I’m This ain’t country! I wanna speak to a manager!
Lil Nas X: Absolutley, lemme go get him for y’all.
Billy Ray Cyrus: pic.twitter.com/ta9Wb9csJZ
— Jared A. Walker (@JAWalker) April 5, 2019
Lil Nas x & Billy ray in the studio pic.twitter.com/KKLSeZvSNE
— It’s the entanglement for me (@Vals_Boy) April 5, 2019
Lil Nas X’s mix re-release of “Old Town Road” with Billy Ray Cyrus. Loved the original but… a man has to do what a man has to do! pic.twitter.com/s3F3NYYXJi
— Norm Kelly (@norm) April 5, 2019
Me: I hate country mus…
*Listens to Lil Nas X – Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) *
Also me: pic.twitter.com/Xo1kIpynd2
— Gary B (@GaryBolton91) April 5, 2019
— nope (@LilNasX) April 5, 2019
me at the cmt awards supporting lil nas x pic.twitter.com/dvLYd6auus
— that ain’t enough for me (@shannjann) April 5, 2019
Lil Nas X and Billboard after he added Billy Ray Cyrus to the song pic.twitter.com/oYpmTFVQhY
— Bonk Bonk (@thakeebman) April 5, 2019
Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) is now available on all major streaming platforms.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.