Too Urban For Country?

If you’ve scrolled through the explore page on Instagram recently, you might’ve come across a particular theme of Tik Toks where people make jump cuts of themselves changing into straw hats, plaid shirts, and cowboy boots, all to the tune of a new popular song by up and coming rapper Lil Nas X. “I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road, I’m gonna- ride ‘till I can’t no more,” is the viral line from the song that landed it 11 million views on Youtube and on the Top 100 for Billboard and for Top 100 for country. But shortly after it’s claim to fame, it was removed from the country list for not being country enough. Something that some people dispute.

“I would say that if the song fits the category and it was on the list, it should absolutely stay on. Country radio stations are playing it, country fans are enjoying, why not just let it go?” says English teacher Mrs. Thomas, as I went around asking local students and teachers what they thought about the whole ordeal. One thing to be questioned is if anyone had heard of any R&B or rap artists also in the country genre (any black artists in particular), one student said “I’ll say (referring to artists that listen to country) there's a lot of them NBA, Jay Z, Kanye West, T Grizzly, - I know that they listen to country”. But there were less people who could name artists that are in the country genre.

The question is whether or not people believed this moment would change the industry in any way. One response was, “Not really, no. Just by them removing it...what is it going to change? It’s just that one song.” Was the song removed for another reason besides what Billboard stated?  “Racism. Because there was no reason for it to be removed. Because if people actually listen- because of the sound, the tone of his voice, everything- It’s country," said one student.

The situation is very interesting and it raises some thoughts towards the music industry and how it feels and categorizes black artists. Is it biased and exclusive towards people of color who don’t stereotypically mix in that field? Or Did it genuinely not hit the spot for the managers of the country Billboard? Whatever it is, it opens up a conversation to those who might not have thought to talk about these things before.

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