Remember that time Beyoncé performed “Daddy Lessons” at the Country Music Awards (CMAs) with the Dixie Chicks (in an extra-loaded and delightfully shady move, given the group’s comments about George W. Bush and their subsequent snubbing) and Cranky Caucausia got in their feelings about it?
Cut to now.
So, there’s this artist named Lil Nas X. Want to see him? Here he go:
He has a new song called “Old Town Road,” which quickly became a hit, landing on coveted charts such as Billboard’s Hot 100, Hot Country Songs, and Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs. Additionally, the young artist recently signed to Columbia Records, who described the song as a “country-inspired rap track,” “a country song,” and “a country trap song” in its press release. The song is also listed under the “Country” category on iTunes and Soundcloud.
However, Billboard has decided to remove the song from its charts. Why? It ain’t country enough for them.
Billboard told Rolling Stone in a statement, “upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard‘s country charts. 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.”
So, I’m only just into a little bit of country (hey “Jolene”!) and I’d never heard of Lil Nas X until this controversy (I thought his moniker was the product of an “If Nas and Director X Had a Baby” name generator), but I definitely know what a country song sounds like. This sounds country song-ish as fuck.
Several folks took to social media to express just how bullshit this decision was and we all couldn’t help but notice Lil Nas X’s key feature: he is black-black-bliggety-blackety-black.
CMA nominee Meghan Linsey said his song had plenty of “country elements,” in fact.
Despite the obvious optics of this whole thing, Billboard assures us this isn’t about his blackness.
“Billboard’s decision to take the song off of the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist,” a Billboard spokesperson told Genius.