Billy Ray Cyrus has lent his vocal to a controversial country-rap hit which is sitting on top of Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 chart.
Joining forces with viral rap sensation Lil Nas X, Cyrus appears on a remixed version of the Western-themed hip hop track “Old Town Road.” The track sparked outrage after it first became popular online in March. A few radio stations began playing the song – which features the lyrical flow of a rap song alongside country-inspired lyrics, highlighting horses and Wranglers at the same time he brags about expensive clothes and sports cars.
While “Old Town Road” initially debuted inside the Top 20 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart (which tracks radio play, sales and streaming), Billboard removed it from the chart, telling Rolling Stone “’Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, [but] it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
Some observers went on to speculate that race played into the decision, but the track has subsequently reappeared on the Billboard Country Airplay radio chart, sitting at Number 53 this week – as well as No.1 in the nation over all. Cyrus’ remixed version was released April 5th, and he’s been one of the song’s most ardent defenders all along.
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“I loved the song the first time I heard it,” Cyrus says. “Country music fans decide what they like. Not critics or anyone else. Waylon Jennings once told me every once in a while the industry outlaws someone because they’re different. Country music fans don’t need to be defined by critics. I’ve always said, don’t think inside the box, don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box. So, I’m honored to collaborate with Lil Nas X on ‘Old Town Road.’”
Cyrus isnt the only country star getting behind Lil Nas X. On March 29, Jake Owen told SiriusXM The Highway’s Storme Warren he also has a collaboration with the rapper on the way.