CBS News, April 10, 2019
Set against a cowboy-themed game, the music video for Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” uses language of the Wild Wild West with a hip hop spin. The genre-blending tune was a breakout hit five weeks ago when it debuted on three Billboard charts at the same time: the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and Hot Country Songs.
But Billboard quietly removed the song from the country chart the following week, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. It later issued a statement saying the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.” Lil Nas X responded on Genius.com.
Rolling Stone reporter Elias Leight said it’s traditionally been challenging for black artists to break through on the country charts.
“It’s often true that black performers are not really allowed to move between genres with the same ease that white performers are,” Leight said.
Billboard maintains its decision to take “Old Town Road” off the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist.
Billboard said it welcomes the buzz created by genre-blending songs like “Old Town Road,” and it could revisit its decision to remove it from the Hot Country Songs chart. It said factors determining which chart a song lives on include musical composition, airplay, and how it’s platformed on streaming services.