Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” wasn’t the first time Hip-Hop infiltrated Country music. Back in 2004, Nelly released his single ‘Over and Over’ featuring Tim McGraw. Then in 2017 Young Thug released his country-rap album Beautiful Thugger Girls. Each of these three had different reactions in the music industry but “Old Town Road” was the first single that made it on the Billboard Country charts. Just a week after it entered the charts it was removed because it “lacked elements that today’s country music contained.” Nevertheless, the impact of the song has sparked conversations of rather or not artists who aren’t country artists could ever crossover and be accepted into its ranks. Today we will be looking at these songs that managed to fuse the best of hip-hop and country together. It’s a rare occasion, but when it happened it was something quite interesting.
Nelly & Tim McGraw – “Over and Over”
Nelly is probably one of the most frequent hip-hop artists who has collaborated with country artists. His first collaboration was in 2004 with Tim McGraw with their single ‘Over and Over’. The single charted at No. 3 on the Billboard’s pop charts and appeared on Nelly’s fourth album Suit. The single gained some airplay on a couple of country radio stations, making purists upset.
Young Thug – Beautiful Thugger Girls
With releasing Beautiful Thugger Girls Thugger tried to bridge the musical divide between hip-hop and country. At the time of its release, people were skeptical of how the album would sound, but in the end, a lot of people loved it. His track “Family Don’t Matter (feat. Millie Go Lightly)” was the most country-inspired track on the album. On the track, Thugger took on a hill-billy drawl while rapping and adding his new ad-lib ‘Yee-Haw’ to his repertoire. The album contained subtle melodic nods to country music but didn’t contain enough elements to be labeled as country. I still give him credit for experimenting with some elements from the genre and creating an album which is unique regardless of genre.
Lil Nas X – “Old Town Road”
As of yesterday “Old Town Road” became the No. 1 song in the country again after a short saga about the song’s elements. The song was backed by a country legend Billy Rae Cyrus who lent a hand on the first remix by giving it a verse. This support over the gender-bending song continued to grow even after the remix came and forced Billboard to take another look at how they classify music. Even though what people consider pop and hip-hop cross over all the time, it’s rare that hip-hop and country cross over. I feel that there’s no real difficulty classifying music and it’s more than what’s being said, but that’s another conversation. Overall the music industry is shifting more into x-over music broadening and putting together uncommon combinations of sounds. So Billboard will have to clearly state what it uses to classify what charts music can be submitted for. In the end, I feel that this incident will force them to change how they handle x-overs.