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Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)

Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus) Description

Old Town Road” is a song by American rapper Lil Nas X, first released independently in December 2018. After gaining popularity, the single was re-released by Columbia Records in March 2019. Lil Nas X also recorded a remix with American country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, which was released on April 5, 2019. Both the original and remix were included on Lil Nas X’s debut EP, 7 (2019).

The song has been widely labeled as “country rap“, a genre that had not often reached the mainstream prior to its release. Dutch beat producer YoungKio composed the instrumental and made it available for purchase online in 2018. It features a sample of “34 Ghosts IV” by American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. The sample was placed behind trap-style Roland TR-808 drums and bass. Lil Nas X purchased the instrumental for US$30 and recorded “Old Town Road” in one day. At the time, he had been living with his sister after dropping out of college; his real world struggles served as an influence on some of the lyrics.

The song initially gained popularity on social video sharing app TikTok and eventually entered the Billboard charts in March 2019. The song reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before the magazine disqualified it from being included on the chart on grounds that it did not fit the genre, sparking a debate on the definition of country music. Though it was not re-entered onto the overall country charts, both the original version of the song and the remix featuring Cyrus eventually peaked at number one on the flagship Billboard chart, the Hot 100, for a record-breaking nineteen consecutive weeks.

Internationally, one or more versions of “Old Town Road” have topped the national singles charts in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; and charted within the top 10 in various other markets.

The song was awarded diamond certification by the RIAA, in October 2019, for moving ten million total units in the United States, the fastest song to be awarded diamond certification. At the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, the remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was nominated for Record of the Year and won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video.

Background and recording

Country rap, and its subgenre, country trap, emerged onto the mainstream following American rapper Young Thug’s experimental mixtape Beautiful Thugger Girls (2017). Lil Nas X has cited Young Thug as a pioneer of country trap. In May 2018, Lil Tracy and Lil Uzi Vert ignited the trend with their country rap single “Like a Farmer (Remix)”.

In 2018, Lil Nas X dropped out of college to pursue a music career, but was discouraged by his parents. He moved in with his sister, spending time promoting his music on the Internet while getting just three hours of sleep each night. Lil Nas X found the beat for “Old Town Road” in October 2018 and began writing after his sister told him he had to move out soon. Lil Nas X felt like he was “out of options” and said that his sister’s and parents’ frustrations with him inspired the song’s chorus, “can’t nobody tell me nothing.”

Within the month of writing it, Lil Nas X chose to spin the song’s meaning so that the “old town road” would be a symbol of success. Lil Nas X recorded the song on December 2, 2018, at the CinCoYo Recording Studio in Atlanta, and released it the following day. Dutch record producer YoungKio produced the beat a year prior to the song’s release and uploaded it to his online store for selling beats. He sampled Nine Inch Nails’ track “34 Ghosts IV”, modifying it with studio techniques so that it sounded like an old field recording, then reordering sections in an effort to make the austere original more catchy.

He had never heard of Nine Inch Nails prior to stumbling upon “34 Ghosts IV” Lil Nas X bought the beat from YoungKio for $30, but since purchases on his online store were anonymous, YoungKio didn’t know the song was purchased by Lil Nas X until he saw it in an Instagram meme in December 2018. Trent Reznor later stated that, shortly after the song began gaining traction, he received a call from Lil Nas X’s manager about the sample, asking for clearance to use it which Reznor granted. He described the song as “undeniably hooky”.

On December 4, 2018, a day after the original version’s release, Lil Nas X tweeted out that he wanted Cyrus on the song. Lil Nas X knew of Cyrus because of his role on Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana. Country singer Jake Owen was originally approached to co-write and record the first remix of “Old Town Road”. Columbia Records executive Ron Perry reached out to Cyrus’ wife Tish Cyrus saying that he would love if Cyrus were to hear “Old Town Road”.

Miley Cyrus first heard the song over coffee on March 16, 2019 when Tish played it to him. Cyrus explained that he loved the original song the first time he heard it. Cyrus also mentioned that he related to the song the first time he heard it, connecting the “old town road” to the Old Town Bridge in Argillite, Kentucky that he used to play on as a kid. In response to Billboard removing “Old Town Road” from the Hot Country Songs chart, Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted his support for Lil Nas X and noted that the removal put him in the ranks of great outlaws.

Composition

“Old Town Road” has been variously described by publications as a country rap, trap, pop, country, rock Southern hip hop, or country trap song. Lil Nas X himself stated that he regards it as the latter. Produced by YoungKio, “Old Town Road” samples Nine Inch Nails’ track “34 Ghosts IV” from their sixth studio album Ghosts I–IV (2008). The song prominently features the playing of a banjo along with trap-style Roland TR-808 drums and bass throughout. It has been compared to Lil Tracy’s 2018 single “Like a Farmer”, which was later remixed by Lil Uzi Vert. The song is composed in the key of G♯ minor with a chord progression of G♯7-Badd9-F♯sus4-E6. It has an approximate tempo of 68 beats per minute.

Charts

“Old Town Road”

Chart (2019-2020) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia) 1
Brazil (Top 100 Brasil) 65
Brazil (União Brasileira de Compositores) 8
Bulgaria (PROPHON) 2
Canada (Canadian Hot 100) 3
China Airplay/FL (Billboard) 1
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100) 82
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100) 2
Denmark (Tracklisten) 1
Estonia (Eesti Ekspress) 3
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) 6
France (SNEP) 1
Germany (Official German Charts) 1
Greece (IFPI) 4
Hungary (Dance Top 40) 4
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40) 8
Hungary (Single Top 40) 1
Hungary (Stream Top 40) 1
Iceland (Tonlist) 8
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Israel (Media Forest) 6
Latvia (LAIPA) 2
Lithuania (AGATA) 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100) 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 1
Norway (VG-lista) 1
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100) 8
Portugal (AFP) 1
Scotland (OCC) 1
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100) 18
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100) 2
Spain (PROMUSICAE) 62
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 1
UK Singles (OCC) 1
UK R&B (OCC) 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard) 31
US Country Airplay (Billboard) 50
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard) 19
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard) 1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard) 30
US Rhythmic (Billboard) 23
US Rolling Stone Top 100
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Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus) Lyrics

[Intro: Billy Ray Cyrus]
Oh, oh-oh
Oh

[Refrain: Billy Ray Cyrus]
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
(Kio, Kio)

[Verse 1: Lil Nas X]
I got the horses in the back
Horse tack is attached
Hat is matte black
Got the boots that’s black to match
Ridin’ on a horse, ha
You can whip your Porsche
I been in the valley
You ain’t been up off that porch, now

[Chorus: Lil Nas X]
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’

[Verse 2: Lil Nas X]
Ridin’ on a tractor
Lean all in my bladder
Cheated on my baby
You can go and ask her
My life is a movie
Bull ridin’ and boobies
Cowboy hat from Gucci
Wrangler on my booty

[Chorus: Lil Nas X]
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’
Can’t nobody tell me nothin’
You can’t tell me nothin’

[Refrain: Lil Nas X]
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more

[Verse 3: Billy Ray Cyrus]
Hat down, cross town, livin’ like a rockstar
Spent a lot of money on my brand new guitar
Baby’s got a habit: diamond rings and Fendi sports bras
Ridin’ down Rodeo in my Maserati sports car
Got no stress, I’ve been through all that
I’m like a Marlboro Man so I kick on back
Wish I could roll on back to that old town road
I wanna ride ’til I can’t no more

[Outro: Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus]
Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more
I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road
I’m gonna ride ’til I can’t no more

Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus) Music Video

Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus) Image

About Old Town Road (Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)

Artist Lil Nas X
Featured Artist Billy Ray Cyrus
Album 7
Release Date December 3, 2018 (Original) April 5, 2019 (Billy Ray Cyrus Remix)
Length 1:53
Genre Country rap
Label Columbia Records
Songwriter(s) Montero Hill, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Kiowa Roukema
Producer(s) YoungKio, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Format Digital download, Streaming
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