To Be Country or Not to Be Country

To Be Country or Not to be Country? That is the Question. Now that musician Lil Nas X has recently reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, many people are starting to believe that the artist no longer needs to care about his previous removal from the Hot Country Charts. “Who needs the country charts when you can top the Billboard 100?,” CNN Correspondent, Lisa Respers France, stated on the subject. However, various fans online still see the issue with the initial removal of the song from its country status.

When Billboard initially made the decision in late March, many online users called racism. However, to dispute these claims, Billboard has released several statements defending the decision. “Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard’s country charts,” the company said in an official statement, “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,” they had continued. However, fans still called racism, leading the Rolling Stones to create an in-depth investigation on how the country industry as a whole and how they have avoided the song. This has caused Billboard to release another statement on the subject, “Billboard’s decision to take the song off of the country chart had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the artist.”

Despite the constant controversy regarding the subject, this is not the first time a black artist was not warmly welcomed in the country community. In 2016, R&B/Pop sensation and legend, Beyoncé Knowles’, country-inspired song “Daddy Lessons,” was treated very similarly in country community by both the Country Music Award audience and the Grammys. After fans reacted and wrote negatively on the singer being allowed to perform at the CMAs, the platform allegedly reacted badly by removing images, videos, and references related to the performance after the backlash. The platform; however, later disputed these claims saying these removals happened in advance of the broadcast. And, similar to the treatment of “Old Town Road,” by Billboard, Beyoncé’s song was rejected by the Grammy Country Committee. “When do we get to the point where [black artists] can be accepted and played on other formats?” An insider said to Rolling Stone. “That’s still the question.”

Because of the abundance of media coverage the song has gotten after Billboard’s decisions, Billboard has released a statement saying the company is thinking about revisiting it and adding the song back to the country charts. Some speculate that this may only be because of country sensation, Billy Ray Cyrus’, decision to support and add on to the song, and not because of the perceived unfairness of the initial decision. Despite the controversy over the song, there is little argument that artist Lil Nas X fairly received his number one spot on the Hot 100 Chart.