On Sunday night, pop singer Justin Bieber posted Lil Nas X’s song, Old Town Road, on Instagram. After Bieber made the post, the song’s popularity skyrocketed and landed the rapper a record deal.
Lil Nas X was on three Billboard charts — the cross-genre Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as well as the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. So why did Billboard decide to remove the song from the Hot Country Songs chart?
Billboard released their own statement, but many fans have other ideas.
Billboard’s official statement on Old Town Road
Lil Nas X’s song is a genre cross that immediately catches fans. It has a lot of the rhythm and language of hip-hop but is very twangy and smooth like a country song. The song was popular enough to get Lil Nas X a deal with Columbia Records.
However, the country sound apparently doesn’t make the song country enough for the charts. Officials from Billboard anonymously stated that the song was added their Hot Country Songs chart by mistake.
In a separate statement, a Billboard representative told Rolling Stone that:
“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.”
Billboard appears to be standing firm in their actions, but fans are upset. Many have started speculating why Billboard actually took the song down, and it isn’t due to the music.
Why did Billboard really take down the song?
Billboard is firm in their message that Old Town Road isn’t a country song, but many fans seem to think there’s a deeper dynamic to the song being removed from the country charts.
Although it isn’t mentioned by Billboard, many fans speculate that the removal of the song has more to do with Lil Nas X’s race than it does his actual music.
Translation: We can’t have a Black rapper crossing over and topping the charts.pic.twitter.com/jesozUSzlu
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) March 28, 2019
Despite fans pointing out all of the country elements, many people still believe that Billboard had every right to remove Old Town Road from their country chart.
Danny Kang, co-manager of Mason Ramsey, thinks that Lil Nas X just used the country genre to gain popularity.
He believes that Lil Nas X was trying to manipulate streaming algorithms to be noticed easier, because “that’s favorable versus trying to go to the rap format to compete with the most popular songs in the world.”
Although fans and non-fans alike may be discussing Billboard’s true intentions in removing the song from the country charts for a while, Lil Nas X has a record deal, so it seems likely that he’ll be back sooner than one might think.