Billy Ray Cyrus Joins Lil Nas X for ‘Old Town Road’ Remix After Song Was Cut From Country Chart
Little more than a week after Billboard dropped rapper Lil Nas X's controversial single "Old Town Road" from consideration on the Hot Country Songs chart, Billy Ray Cyrus has teamed with the rising artist for a remix.
As Rolling Stone reports, a new remix of the viral smash became available online at midnight on Thursday night (April 4), featuring Cyrus singing the very first hook of the ultra-catchy banjo-drenched hip-hop track.
“I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road / I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more," Cyrus sings, and he contributes his voice further toward the end of the track.
Lil Nas X came from out of nowhere and went viral with the video for "Old Town Road," which fuses a hip-hop beat with banjo and traditional country lyricism. The video borrows from Old West imagery, and it swept the internet like wildfire after it became popular via the TikTok app in March. "Old Town Road" debuted at No. 19 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart on March 16.
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Billboard then removed "Old Town Road" from consideration on that chart, finding that the song didn't contain enough country elements and telling the rapper's label that its initial inclusion was a mistake. The decision sparked massive debate online as to whether race might have played a role in Billboard's decision, and what constitutes country music as the genre becomes increasingly fluid.
The magazine denied race was a factor, and Lil Nas X's manager tells Rolling Stone he doesn't believe it was. He says his client listed the song as country on various musical services because it's a genre where it's easier to gain commercial traction online, but "that's a hip-hop song."
Cyrus turned to Instagram on March 27 to respond to the flap, albeit obliquely, writing, "Don't try and think inside the box. Don't think outside the box. Think like there is no box." The veteran country singer added the hashtag #HorsesInTheBack, a reference to the lyrics of "Old Town Road."
“I loved the song the first time I heard it. Country music fans decide what they like. Not critics or anyone else," Cyrus says in a press release. "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.'"
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Cyrus previously released a rap remix of his own signature song, "Achy Breaky Heart," in 2014, working with rapper Buck 22.
"I've always loved every kind of music, and he wrote a song that came out, people obviously liked it enough to where it starts popping up charting on a country hit," he observes in an interview with SiriusXM's The Highway host Storme Warren.
"Now, there's definitely elements that people think are country or aren't country, but I think at the end of the day, for me, anything that seems to pop up on our radar and people like it, it's welcome," Owen adds. "I leave my doors open any time, because you never know what's gonna walk through."