How Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus are challenging race issues in country music

How Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus are challenging race issues in country music
Lil Nas X (Photo source: Instagram – @lilnasx)

When Lil Nas X created “Old Town Road,” he was seeking to create a country song that had elements of trap music. The song eventually became a viral hit after he released it in December 2018.

Within weeks, the song landed on Billboard‘s Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts simultaneously. However, Billboard removed the track from its Hot Country Songs list, causing many to believe that race was a factor.

Country music remains a genre dominated by White artists, although a few anomalies, such as Kane Brown, Charlie Pride and Darius Rucker, have found success in country music while being Black.

Lil Nas X’s rise possibly caused many of the gatekeepers of country music to fear his potential. Along with being Black, he also became popular through social media instead of the Nashville music scene, which often dictates the next big country music stars.

Instead of getting angry with the system, however, Lil Nas X found a way to add traditional country music flair to “Old Town Road.” Lil Nas X added country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus to the remix, which dropped at midnight.

Check out a snippet of the two in the studio.

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