Slow down, cowboy!
Before you trade out your Jordan 8’s for some leather boots to celebrate a new milestone in Hip Hop history, popular culture just might pull your reins back. According to the latest headline of Lil Nas X being removed from Billboard’s country charts, questions have been emerging asking:
What exactly makes a country song a…uh…country song?
Country hip hop or country trap is the form of fusing the sound of country music with hip hop lyrics and flow. Surprisingly for most, this type of fusion has been done before. Originally debuting in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, country hip hop, better known as “Hick-Hop”, had first claimed its popularity through artists such as Bubba Sparxxx and Nappy Roots. The idea seemed to only attract a South Western audience but lately, with the help of social media, it’s become widespread, tumble-weaving its way through all music platforms.
Within the last two years, rap artists have sporadically dropped country-like tracks such as “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug, and “Like a Farmer” by Lil Tracy. However, this time around, it has re-surfaced with a distinct tone. The new wave of country rapping has transitioned over time, adding more bass and drums to the stereotypical vibe of a country song. Now, thanks to Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road” has opened up the saloon door for trap artists to possibly gain a spot on the country charts.
Which brings over the debate of whether or not the track by Lil Nas X was even considered a country song or not.
Let’s start with the basics.
According to Dictionary.com, a country song is defined as “ a style and genre of largely string-accompanied…usually vocalized, generally simple in form and harmony… type-bodied by romantic or melancholy ballads… acoustic or electric guitar, banjo, violin, and harmonica.”
There is no way to bypass the Western theme of the entire track from start to finish. Just when you hear the song, you can automatically envision a scene out of Red Red Redemption, and I’m not exaggerating. The original version of the song included the mere descriptions to meet their qualifications, which sparked an outrage within the urban culture when they heard Lil Nas X was abruptly removed from the charts. Many were left confused and disappointed.
One of those people included Billy Ray Cyrus, who decided to jump on the track to the remix. (By the way – looking at the footage of the recording session, he did not come to play.) Dressed in a dark, taupe trench coat with his statement cowboy hat, Cyrus succeeded in adding the essence of fierce cowboy vibes into the studio that day. He revamped the entire song with his chorus, singing lyrics that were all-things country. In result, the remix is now #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. This popular debate has even Keith Urban wanting in on the movement.
It’s a matter of time that rap artists will begin to takeover the country charts if they continue to recreate the same sound. It’ll then fall on Billboard and popular opinion to decide if hip hop-fused country songs would get to dominate charts in the future.