How ‘Old Town Road’ showed unity in the Black community

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 8:24pm

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Courtesy of Lil Nas X

Every community has its lost of taboo topics. Some in the black community include mental health (sadly) and therapy. But one that is not often realized is country music. It’s ok if someone doesn’t like the stereotypical things like rap music or Kool-aid. But don’t let anyone find out that you liked Taylor Swift in her “You Belong With Me” days and you might get your revoked. Even in a community where they accomplishments of each one is widely celebrated, Darius Rucker, who won multiple Grammys in the country category got no such praise. This trend change when the remix to the country song “Old Town Road” by black country artist Lil Nas X came out.

The popularity of this song didn’t at first come from the song itself, but from the story behind it. When the original version of the song came out about a year ago, it reached #1 on the country charts. However, not too long after, it was taken down due to the fact that it was too “urban.” This was met with the anger of many, especially since “urban” is usually the polite way of saying “black.” So when the remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus came out, many people decided to support it for the culture.

Even though this is how the popularity of “Old Town Road” started, this country song with a hip-hop beat quickly caught on in its own right. The fact that the song has a beat that is more similar to more mainstream songs is what reeled many people in. And for those who watched Hannah Montana growing up, the fact that Billy Ray Cyrus was on a verse added a bonus element of nostalgia. Since the remix came on, I’ve seen multiple people advertise it on their Snapchat, I’ve had people that I’m hanging out with sing it while we’re at dinner, and I even heard it at a fraternity probate. Though there are many that are still just listening to the song for support, it still signals a shift in how we support those in our community that don’t fit exactly into this preconceived notion of blackness.

Simply listening to a song shows the amount of solidarity that this community can hold. We are willing to put aside our generalizations about who we’re supposed to be, as well as our community taboos in order to uplift one our people that was wronged.

No community is perfect, and this one is no exception. However, it is still a beautiful thing knowing that we can pull together when needed.