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Anna Thetard / Her Campus
Culture > Entertainment

Cowboy Culture is Coming Home

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

At this point I’m sure we’ve all been inspired to buy a new pair of cowboy boots, overalls, and wear a full denim outfit. It’s been a long time coming and I personally am fully on board with the resurgence of American Wild Western culture in all aspects of mainstream culture. Celebrities such as Bad Bunny have been adopting it within their album and tour themes, or within their personal fashion chioces such as Kim Kardashian, and even incorporating it into their lifestyles such as Bella Hadid. It’s everywhere from the flare jeans we’ve been wearing, the wardrobe in the movies we’ve been watching recently, but most importantly it is taking over the music industry.

Many artists have tapped into the country music genre in the last couple of years. Artists such as Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, and the 1975 have either tried out the genre for the first time or revisited their country roots  and have all been received with nothing but positive feedback. Unfortunately, it has been proven that the same could not be said about Black musicians that wanted to explore cowboy culture with their projects.

When Black American artists have created country projects recently they have been met with backlash and obstacles preventing their songs from being categorized as a country, all of which are rooted in racist remarks meant to exclude non-white people from the genre. There are many instances of this, from Billboard refusing to consider Lil Nas X’s hit song “Old Town Road” a country record or Beyoncé receiving hateful backlash in 2016 over creating a country song, “Daddy Lessons”, on her “Lemonade” album and performing it at the CMAs alongside the Chicks.

When taking these remarks into consideration, the origins of American Western culture and country music are worth looking into. Statistically, one in every four cowboys were actually former African-American slaves in the American southwest who were taught their skills by Mexican “vaqueros”. In addition to this, the term “cowboy” was actually adopted as a way to belittle Black cowboys from their white counterparts who were “cowhands”. 

As for country music as a whole, the foundation of the genre is multicultural. That being said, country music, as well as many other genres, would not exist today without the contributions of Black artists in the American South. Society has erased that part of history and the general public was made to think that country music was a “white” genre, which could not be further from the truth.

As we are entering this new era of Western culture becoming dominant in mainstream media we are seeing the style come home again. Most recently with Beyonce creating “Cowboy Carter”, an album which was inspired from her negative experience at the CMAs that is also meant to reclaim her southern roots, to Kendrick Lamar’s fashion choices during his “Compton Cowboy” era, which highlights the significance of Black and Latino cowboys in Southern California. We are seeing the original creators of Wild Western culture reclaim their roots, redefine the genre and usher in the ability for multiple other genres that have been stolen from historically marginalized communities to come home once again. The possibilities for more amazing developments within these categories when they are able to be renowned by their original founders are endless and I am so excited to see what will come from this.

Hailey Moreno

UC Riverside '25

I'm currently a third-year Sociology major at UC Riverside. I love all things pop culture, writing, and music!