“Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard‘s country charts," Billboard says in a statement to Rolling Stone. "When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
The viral record, which has been described as a trap-like country song, became the first to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the Hot Country Songs chart and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart simultaneously. Although the song remains on both the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, Billboard removed Lil Nas X's song from the Hot Country Songs chart and informed the artist and his label that including the song on the country music chart was a mistake on their part.
X dropped his debut project Naserati in 2018 and followed up with "Old Town Road" last December. His song samples Nine Inch Nails' 2008 track "34 Ghosts IV" and comes complete with a music video, which is a mashup of footage from the video game, Red Dead Redemption.
Billboard maintains their decision regarding the song had nothing to do with Lil Nas X's race, yet their latest chart controversy alludes to an even bigger issue afflicting artists of color who pursue genres outside of hip-hop and R&B.
“When do we get to the point where [Black artists] can be accepted and played on other formats?” the Billboard insider says. “That’s still the question.”
Lil Nas X has since let loose a brief statement on the removal of his song from the Hot Country Songs chart. He made the comment in an Instagram post he uploaded this afternoon.
"extremely disappointed 😕," X wrote in the caption for the post, which included a screenshot of Pitchfork's news post about the situation.