One of the first things you’ll probably notice about “Old Town Road,” besides its earworm hook about horses that’s both catchy and funny, is its length. It’s less than two minutes long. Right when you start to really enjoy the song, it ends, which leaves you with only one option: Go back to the beginning and listen to it again. The beat itself was created by producer YoungKio, a teenager in the Netherlands who sampled the Nine Inch Nails track “34 Ghosts IV” and offered the track in his beat store. In a recent interview , he described it as a “throwaway beat” and said he didn’t know about “Old Town Road” until someone tagged him in a meme on Instagram featuring the finished track in December.
As the “Old Town Road” remix remained at the top of the charts, Lil Nas X doled out more remixes of the song featuring Diplo, rapper RM of K-pop group BTS, and Young Thug and Mason Ramsey, of “Walmart yodeling kid” fame. Lil Nas X has floated hints for potential remixes with Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, and Megan Thee Stallion.
Lil Nas X was scheduled to play at UBC’s Welcome Back BBQ Friday, Sept. 13, but the rapper unexpectedly cancelled his performance mere days in advance.
From left to right: In the music video for one of the “Old Town Road” remixes, emoji depicting Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Young Thug, and Mason Ramsey.
Now, he’s a superstar. His smash-hit debut single, Old Town Road,” is currently the longest-running No. 1 single in Billboard’s history. In 2019, the rapper rose to fame after his breakthrough single, Old Town Road, became a viral hit.
That becomes clear when you watch any “Yee Haw Challenge” compilation, a popular genre of Tik Tok video that took off in March of 2019. Like many popular memes, the joke is both incredibly simple and borderline unexplainable: an individual is dressed “normally;” said individual discovers and drinks from some quasi-mystical “yee yee juice;” they’re transformed into “cowboy” duds. “Old Town Road” plays as this country metamorphosis unfolds before your eyes. Typically, some dancing and mugging for the camera is involved. That’s pretty much it, but the premise allows for a near infinite variations on the idea.
But if you’ve watched every ‘Old Town Road’ video that exists on Twitter and TikTok and are still wondering, what, exactly taking your horse down the old town road entails, the rapper himself has you covered.
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a country-inflected rap song celebrating the act of taking your horses down to the “old town road” of the title, is currently the number one song in America. It’s been that way all summer. In fact, this week “Old Town Road” was the number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for the 17th week in a row, breaking the record for longest chart reign previously held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” in 1995-96 and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” in 2017. “Old Town Road” is now one of the biggest chart hits of all time.
His latest appearance was on BuzzFeed’s first-ever INTERNET LIVE” alongside New York Mayor and presidential candidate Bill de Blasio and Jersey Shore star JWOWW. Perhaps he’ll become de Blasio’s running mate. He already has political ties. Presidential candidate Tim Ryan used ‘Old Town Road’ as his walk out song during the democratic debate.
Twitter also posted a video on its music account , Twitter Music, starring the young rapper and meme impresario, in which he grabs Jack Dorsey’s badge and becomes CEO for the day. His first act? Firing @Jack. His second? Demanding an edit button, and then firing a roomful of engineers when they didn’t begin typing fast enough.
In April, Lil Nas X performed ” Old Town Road ” at the Stagecoach Festival live for the first time with Billy Ray Cyrus It was like a christening party, his big welcome into the entire realm of country, on one of its largest stage.
The song’s path to ubiquity was not totally without precedent. As Billboard noted at the time, Lil Nas X was the first artist to grab the number one spot with his first Hot 100 charting song since Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” in October 2017. Like Bauuer’s “Harlem Shake,” the first track to really benefit from the addition of streaming data to the Billboard chart formula, “Old Town Road” initially caught fire because of a popular video dance trend. It’s impossible to know what the future holds for 19-year-old Montero Lamar Hill, who goes by the stage name Lil Nas X, but he’s already signed to Columbia Records, met one of his heroes , released an EP, and made some really great tweets As the lyrics go, he’ll probably ride this until he can’t no more.
In June 2019, Nas X came out as gay, the only artist ever to have done so while having a number-one record. Have you heard? Lil Nas X has decided to take some time off from music and live outside of the spotlight for a while.
On May 17, after teasing it on Twitter for weeks, Lil Nas X released the official video for ” Old Town Road ,” which featured the rapper as a time-traveling cowboy. Along with an appearance from Billy Ray Cyrus, the star-studded video also featured cameos from Chris Rock, Vince Staples, Rico Nasty, Diplo, Haha Davis, and Young Kio. At the moment, it’s been viewed over 240 million times on YouTube. Similarly, a video from late May of Lil Nas X performing the song for a screaming crowd of elementary school kids also went viral.
Within the world of country music, groups like Florida Georgia Line and artists like Luke Bryan have been adding a healthy portion of hip-hop to their arena-packing country music for years, and rappers have worked country music reference points into their work for decades. On a broader cultural level, “Old Town Road” also arrives at what could arguably be the peak of the ” Yee Haw Agenda ,” a term coined by Bri Malandro to describe the current rise in country-western style.
Inspired by the hit song Old Town Road by Lil Nas X. This limited release collection offers fresh remixes of classic Wrangler styles for the kind of modern cowboy that can’t be put in a box.
Okay, so, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Ten Second Songs, it is a guy on YouTube – named Anthony Vincent – who takes songs and performs them in a bevy of different styles, typically in the mode of if they were performed by another artist.
As the memes intensified, the song spread beyond Tik Tok. By the end of March, the ubiquity of “Old Town Road” was widespread enough that both Justin Bieber and the Texas Tech basketball team , which posted a locker room celebration video set to the song, began to take notice. In April, even Avengers star Mark Ruffalo was getting in on the fun, posting a photo of himself in a cowboy hat and joking about taking his horse “down to old town road.” Unquestionably, Lil Nas X had arrived.
Thugger comes in after Lil Nas on the third verse while young Ramsey holds it down in the final bars of the 2-minute-long track. The two rap about rolling around in Maseratis and an electric Razor scooter. The horses are still in the back.
Since then, Lil Nas X has also performed the song on award shows and kept the momentum going by releasing new remixes, including a version featuring rapper Young Thug and viral yodeling singer Mason Ramsey He loves to tease possible collaborations and remixes with other artists on Twitter, but he reportedly turned down the chance to perform the song with Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. As the song has continued to blow up, audiences have also gotten to know Lil Nas X better: He’s spoken candidly about his sexuality , adopted some very cute Bernese mountain dog puppies , and paid his respect to Mariah Carey after breaking her chart record. He’s an easy guy to root for.
He is part of a pop landscape that has increasingly welcomed performers who have come out as queer, bisexual or gay. While mainstream gay megastars remain relatively rare in the worlds of country, rap and even pop, many genre-spanning artists, from Frank Ocean , Tyler the Creator, and Kevin Abstract to Janelle Monáe, Brandi Carlile and Troye Sivan, have spoken openly or written songs about same-sex attraction and relationships. And as acceptance of sexuality has become more widespread in culture generally, many younger artists have eschewed the need for major coming-out announcements in favor of more matter-of-fact acknowledgment.
After being embraced by music lovers around the world, he still has sleepless nights but for an entirely different reason. “I probably slept like two or three hours last night, because I was expecting to get back up to see the reaction, and it’s crazy,” he told The Fader about how the excitement over the success of his song has cut into his shut-eye time.
The song, which has achieved most of its success through audio streaming, also saw remixes featuring Diplo, Young Thug, Mason Ramsey and BTS. To its advantage, Billboard counts the original song and the remixes as one when calculating chart position, thus helping Old Town Road stay on top.
Week 17 version of Lil Nas X’s Billboard #1 hit, Old Town Road (Remix)” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. The 20-year-old Old Town Road” rapper pointed to the lyrics of c7osure,” a song off his new EP, as confirmation of his sexuality.