Lil Nas X Reveals He Used to Be Embarrassed by “Old Town Road,” Shares New Perspective

Before Beyoncé sparked debate about what and what isn’t country, before Jelly Roll started climbing the charts, and before Post Malone, Lana Del Rey, and Machine Gun Kelly started dipping their toes in country music, there was Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road.”

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The song burst onto the scene and quickly rose on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It had a bumping hip-hop beat but used traditional country imagery in a way that hadn’t really been employed since “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line, and even that song leans more country. Even Billy Ray Cyrus got involved. However, Billboard eventually pulled “Old Town Road” from chart eligibility during its meteoric rise, claiming, essentially, it wasn’t country enough for the country chart.

Discourse commenced, with many people arguing about what was considered “country.” It’s the same argument we all had this year about Beyoncé. Back and forth about real country and who belongs in country. Lil Nas X recently admitted that the debate caused him to feel embarrassed about the song, calling it “cringe.”

“Me suddenly realizing I spent 5 years thinking my own song was cringe because ugly losers who will never make anything as great and game-changing as it got into my head,” he wrote on TikTok, over a video of himself dancing to the Billy Ray Cyrus remix of the song.

[RELATED: 3 Controversial Country Songs That Shook Up the Genre]

Lil Nas X Shares New Perspective on Viral Hit “Old Town Road” and How the Song Changed the Game

At the time, “Old Town Road” was revolutionary for country-hip-hop fusion. Taste of Country, in a report, made note of predecessors like Cowboy Troy and the “hick-hop” microgenre. However, there was no chart crossover during that time, at least none so popular as “Old Town Road.”

Hip-hop has informed a lot of country music since then, with artists like Blanco Brown, Breland, and Shaboozey making hits left and right. Shaboozey’s “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, his first on the chart.

Now, we have Post Malone preparing his country album with artists like Morgan Wallen, Blake Shelton, and Chris Stapleton. We have Lana Del Rey collaborating with Quavo on “Tough,” which uses country music imagery with a hip-hop beat, similarly to how “Old Town Road” was composed.

Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road” weren’t the first to do it, but the chart success of the song definitely opened a door. Whether that door needed to be opened is anyone’s guess, but it is now firmly wedged open and artists are strolling confidently through.

Featured Image by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

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