" Lil Nas X’s Smash Makes Country Wonder if Rap Is Friend or Foe. Again."

    Article by Jon Caramanica @ NYTimes.com/Music, April 11

    Over the last few weeks, “Old Town Road” — a strutting and lightheartedly comedic country-rap tune by the previously unknown 20-year-old rapper Lil Nas X — has lived an improbable number of lives.

    It began as a Hail Mary pass by a college dropout hoping music might save him from having to go back to school. But in the way that the internet can rapidly make and remake something, morphing meaning in real time, Lil Nas X’s track became something different almost every few days on its path from SoundCloud obscurity to pop ubiquity: a savvy troll, a manipulator of streaming algorithms, a meme theme, a battering ram to genre barriers, a trigger of music-biz discord, a David suffering at the hands of Goliath, a sociocultural rallying point, and eventually, a site of cross-cultural kumbaya.

    And now, it’s likely to be one of the most emblematic songs of the year: On April 8, “Old Town Road” became the No. 1 song in the country, capping a startling ascent that demonstrates what can happen when viral engineering meets lightning-rod controversy meets the pop uncanny.

     

     

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    Lil Nas X-Old Town Road-featuring Billy Ray Cyrus:


    Whole phenomenon made me think of the lyrics of this oldie

     


    NEED TO KNOW: HOW LIL NAS X AND BILLY RAY CYRUS STRETCHED THE LIMITS OF COUNTRY MUSIC

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE Because a new star is born amid racial and musical controversy.

    OZY Newsmakers: Deep dives on the names you need to know.

    By Carly Stern @ Ozy. com, April 10

    What happens when you combine some twangy guitar and trap beats, a meme of cowboys by the fire, a young Black innovator and a country music stalwart? An achy breaky chart.

    The unlikely collaboration of Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus (best known, depending on your age bracket, as Hannah Montana’s dad or the crooner of 1992 smash Achy Breaky Heart) on the suddenly everywhere song Old Town Road (I Got Horses in the Back) has raised racial and genre-bending questions as old as popular music itself, with a backstory made for the social media age. In the process, it’s crowned a new star and revived the career of another. Not bad for a tune initially clocking in under two minutes.

    In December 2018, the little-known musician from Atlanta called Lil Nas X (his real name is Montero Lamar Hill) uploaded the single as part of the “Yeehaw Challenge” on TikTok, a social media site [....]


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