Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus got the horses in the bacc

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 4:25pm

Columbia Records

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“Ridin’ on a tractor, lean all in my bladder.”

These stupid lit lyrics drip, soaked in the spirit of the hip-haw genre.   

There comes a time in a writer’s career when they are launched into uncharted territory. Never would I imagine this territory to be the depths of the largely pastoral, cowboy agenda that is Tik Tok (Musical.ly’s son, Vine’s distant cousin).

Lil Nas X’s smash single “Old Town Road” has risen as a cultural phoenix that ignited the weirdest parts of the internet, personifying the cowboy emoji and igniting an inescapable “yee-haw boi” energy that has lead the meme empire to its climax. In March of 2019, “Old Town Road” rose to the top of both Billboard’s Hot Country Chart and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chart, only to be removed from the country chart due to its supposed deviation from traditional country roots (ahem, some would argue, a deviation from whiteness). Since being thrown from the horse that is Billboard’s Hot Country Chart, Lil Nas X dropped a remix of “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, and is now at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Old Town Road” is the blissful apex of the cowboy energy that has flooded popular culture. The pause between “I’m gonna” and “rideeeee” quite possibly hits harder than all four seasons of Hannah Montana combined. Genius’s lyric interpretation video of “Old Town Road” dropped just yesterday, and it soared to over 2 million views in just eight hours. The most shocking piece of this phenomenon, however, is Lil Nas X’s fair and square, joyous attitude: This man seems to take no notice of the questions his single raises about race, genre, media, memes and success. In interviews, he simply basks in joy without acknowledging his role in single-handedly challenging present-day cultural associations. He’s just a hip-haw cowboy, humbly praising pioneers like Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert. That bliss — that’s the root of yee-haw energy.

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“Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)”

Lil Nas X 

Columbia Records