19-year-old Lil Nas X might be at the forefront of a new era for country-rap. His viral single “Old Town Road” currently sits at the top of the Spotify United States Top 50 and global Apple Music charts. It’s at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100. Last week, he scored a record deal with Colombia.
But a few days ago, Billboard removed the song from their Hot Country Songs chart because they determined it wasn’t country enough. Lil Nas X spoke out about the single’s success and its chart removal in an interview with Time.
The rise of Lil Nas X, real name Montero Lamar Hill, can be partially owed to the app TikTok, where users have tied his single to the viral #yeehaw challenge. “I promoted the song as a meme for months until it caught on to TikTok and it became way bigger,” he said. “I was pretty familiar with TikTok: I always thought its videos would be ironically hilarious. When I became a trending topic on there, it was a crazy moment for me. A lot of people will try to downplay it, but I saw it as something bigger.”
When asked if he thought he should be getting paid per stream, he replied, “Oh, no, no. I should maybe be paying TikTok. They really boosted the song. It was getting to the point that it was almost stagnant. When TikTok hit it, almost every day since that, the streams have been up. I credit them a lot.”
Time asked if he thought his removal from the country chart had racial undertones. “I believe whenever you’re trying something new, it’s always going to get some kind of bad reception. For example, when rap started, or when rock and roll began,” he said. “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.”
Ultimately, Lil Nas X thinks the song belongs on both the Hot Country Songs and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts: “The song is country trap. It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both. It should be on both.”
Read ‘Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” Might Herald A Whole New Era For Country-Rap’ here.
Read ‘TikTok And The Memeification Of Music’ here.