Recently, Billboard’s country music charts made a controversial decision about a rising star’s song that has many wondering if Billboard has an issue with race. Removing Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” from its climbing status on the country music charts is currently creating a lot of backlash for Billboard, according to USA Today.
The music industry has long been applauding artists that cross genres and redefine the boundaries of chart categories. That fact alone is making many wonder if Billboard’s attempt to redefine what entails country music because of a rising musical star has something else behind it.
While it’s clear that Lil Nas X’s song, “Old Town Road,” is different from what most would expect to hear out of a country music song, it rose to take the number 32 slot on this week’s Billboard Hot 100. The song pushes barriers, using banjos similar to many country songs and trap beats usually found in hip-hop. The lyrics Lil Nas X raps talk about cowboys and horses, but also feature references to Porsches and Gucci.
Last year, “Meant to Be” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line took over the country charts with its mix of EDM and country. With a crossover song like “Meant to Be” being accepted as recently as 2018 to the country charts, many are questioning why Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” was pulled.
Billboard tried to clarify its decision in a recent statement. However, many musicians and fans are uncomfortable with the definition as well as Billboard’s move to pull Lil Nas X from the country charts.
Billboard removed rapper Lil Nas X from their country charts because "Old Town Road" wasn't country enough. https://t.co/iJdK5QODGB— The Associated Press (@AP) March 29, 2019
“Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard’s country charts,” Billboard said in a statement, according to Fox News. “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.”
Billboard’s statement did little to quell the outrage of many of the rapper’s fans as well as lovers of country music. In fact, people instead rushed to support Lil Nas X on social media. Other rappers have labeled Billboard’s move as discriminatory, and some country music stars have also expressed anger over Billboard’s decision.
“That is some BS. It’s got plenty of ‘country elements’ and its as ‘country’ as anything on country radio, tbh” Meghan Linsey, a country music singer, tweeted in support of Lil Nas X, according to USA Today.