Over the last few weeks, “Old Town Road” — a strutting and lightheartedly comedic country-rap tune by the previously unknown 20-year-old rapper Lil Nas X — has lived an improbable number of lives.
It began as a Hail Mary pass by a college dropout hoping music might save him from having to go back to school. But in the way that the internet can rapidly make and remake something, morphing meaning in real time, Lil Nas X’s track became something different almost every few days on its path from SoundCloud obscurity to pop ubiquity: a savvy troll, a manipulator of streaming algorithms, a meme theme, a battering ram to genre barriers, a trigger of music-biz discord, a David suffering at the hands of Goliath, a sociocultural rallying point, and eventually, a site of cross-cultural kumbaya.
[Listen to a history of country-rap in 29 songs.]
And now, it’s likely to be one of the most emblematic songs of the year: On April 8, “Old Town Road” became the No. 1 song in the country, capping a startling ascent that demonstrates what can happen when viral engineering meets lightning-rod controversy meets the pop uncanny.
For its first 25 seconds, “Old Town Road” could be any other rural lament, a lonely howl delivered over a plucked ukulele. It’s only when the trap drums kick in and the vocals change from singing to quasi-ironic rapping that the song’s true intentions come to the fore. It’s a genre-hybrid exercise — a hip-hop song with country-themed subject matter, partly rapped and partly sung in an exaggerated honky-tonk accent — and also a comedy sketch. The way Lil Nas X overaccentuates his vowels and makes them wobble is a caricature of stoic drawl, and when he raps “cowboy hat from Gucci, Wrangler on my booty,” it’s both confident boast and funny fantasy.
It’s also a neat distillation of how genre is currently lived in American pop music: fluidly, with styles and ideas up for grabs by creators and easily slipped on and off by listeners, with varying degrees of sincerity. Pop, more than ever, is an identity playground.
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But the particular alchemy of “Old Town Road” also taps something deeper: more than two decades of dialogue between country music and hip-hop, genres that have been slowly but consistently finding common heritage, swapping structural elements and taking comfort in each other’s sounds.
But the industry’s gatekeepers are less interested in this mutability. For decades, Nashville has essentially framed and marketed the rural experience as white — despite and in defiance of the deep black roots of country music. So when an artist like Lil Nas X — who is black, and raps, and is from Atlanta, with no ties to the country music business — lays claim to rural aesthetics, even in a way that’s partly tongue in cheek, it causes real disruption. In late March, “Old Town Road” appeared on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before it was removed for being deemed insufficiently country, causing a furor. But resistance led to embrace: a remix of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, which in turn has been played by some country radio stations, which helped the song land on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
“Old Town Road” — the original or the remix — is by no means the first country-rap crossover. There have been collaborations across genre lines, like Nelly and Tim McGraw’s “Over and Over”; songs in which country singers rap, like Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and Blake Shelton’s “Boys ’Round Here”; and performances that are fully genre flexible, like Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time.”
And hip-hop has flirted with country signifiers on and off since the 1980s, whether it was the fringe-outfitted rapper Cowboy from the Furious Five, or Kool Moe Dee’s — and later, Will Smith’s — excursion to the “Wild Wild West.”
By the 1990s, Southern rap was flourishing, providing a platform for ideas, accents and sounds that weren’t part of hip-hop from the coasts. Crooked Lettaz from Mississippi, 8Ball & MJG from Tennessee, UGK from Texas and many more emphasized drawling flows and production that leaned toward Southern soul and sometimes blues.
Around the turn of the century, a pair of young white rappers, Bubba Sparxxx and Colt Ford, were beginning to work with Shannon Houchins, a producer in the Atlanta rap innovator Jermaine Dupri’s camp. Houchins would go on to produce most of “Dark Days, Bright Nights,” Sparxxx’s independent debut album, which got him signed to the major label Interscope and partnered with the producer Timbaland, who steered country-rap to its first big breakthrough moment: Sparxxx’s single “Ugly,” a hip-hop and pop hit with a video that included a pig sty and a tractor race, and went to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sparxxx’s follow-up album, “Deliverance,” was a stunning and elegant cross-genre statement radically unlike anything that had preceded it. It made less of a broad impact, but in the wake of Sparxxx’s innovations came a wave of artists who effectively identified as country rappers focused on rural storytelling and signifiers — growing up far from cities, partying at mud bogs and so on.
The seeds were also planted for what was to be Nashville’s first extended flirtation with hip-hop. Kid Rock, an early white rapper, remade himself as a country-rock rapper-singer. Tim McGraw partnered with Nelly on “Over and Over,” a road ballad that went to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 2004. Kenny Rogers collaborated with both Wyclef Jean and Coolio. Even Willie Nelson appeared on a hip-hop song. And in Nashville, the MuzikMafia emerged, a polyglot group of performers that included the singing duo Big & Rich and the rapper Cowboy Troy, who collaborated on several songs, including the single “I Play Chicken With the Train,” which in 2005 became the first country-rap song to land on the Billboard Country Songs chart.
These were outliers, or novelties — brief successes that Nashville tolerated but didn’t wholeheartedly embrace. But at around the same time, Houchins teamed up with Ford to form Average Joes Entertainment, a record label devoted to the intersection of country and rap centered on white rural experiences, with a growing stable of burly gool-ol’-boy rappers — “hick-hop,” it was occasionally called — operating largely outside the country music mainstream, though Ford regularly collaborated with the genre’s stars.
[A godfather of country-rap on his 2000s hits and Lil Nas X.]
By the early 2010s, Nashville was in search of raw energy. The music became more rural, rougher at the edges and more willing to flaunt a range of influences. These younger singers — Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan — often made it plain that hip-hop was as much of their musical heritage as country or Southern rock.
That lineage was cemented when, in 2010, Aldean covered “Dirt Road Anthem,” a song originally recorded by Ford and Brantley Gilbert; his version went to No 1. on the country chart and No. 7 on the Hot 100. It opened the floodgates — Blake Shelton rapped a little, Bryan danced to hip-hop songs onstage, the duo Florida Georgia Line built a career on importing just the faintest hint of hip-hop percussion and slang. Their song “Cruise” became one of the biggest hits of 2013, bolstered by a remix featuring, who else, Nelly.
That there’s a splash of hip-hop coursing through country (its male performers, at least) is now fundamentally accepted, but always with the country performer — and the country music business — in control of just how much.
Nothing, though, is immune from the force and urgency of the meme economy, and Lil Nas X has demonstrated himself to be a master of how to pachinko his way from the margins to the mainstream. “Old Town Road” began on SoundCloud, where he tagged it as country to avoid competing with the hip-hop heavyweights that dominate the platform. Once it began to get noticed, he pushed it heavily on TikTok, the short-performance-clip app, where it was the soundtrack to thousands of videos.
The track also arrived at a fortuitous moment — on the heels of a trickle of Western aesthetics into the high-style universe over the last couple of years, and also following the success of stylistically diverse country performers like Kacey Musgraves, who have demonstrated that a country musician can be a beacon of cool far outside the genre’s walls. Even Kanye West recently took to the countryside, unveiling his last album at a Wyoming cowboy ranch.
In another moment, the aesthetic choices of “Old Town Road” might have been perceived as pure kitsch, but now they are kitsch with a side of tastemaker. And though the removal of the song from the country chart reflected an initial resentment, the mood soon switched. Some country singers said they found “Old Town Road” to be country, or country enough. They didn’t want to be on the wrong side of cool.
Billy Ray Cyrus, who joined the song’s remix, is not a country insider at the peak of his powers, but he’s still a performer with a great deal of resonance within Nashville thanks to his 1992 pop-country crossover smash “Achy Breaky Heart.” Cyrus’s “Old Town Road” verse is pure glitz, a blend of hip-hop braggadocio and country-boy-in-the-big-city awe: “Spent a lot of money on my brand-new guitar/Baby’s got a habit, diamond rings and Fendi sports bras/Ridin’ down Rodeo in my Maserati sports car.” The performance is effortless, showing a version of country music that’s cosmopolitan, flexible and self-aware.
Whether Cyrus’s co-sign will be enough for the industry side of Nashville to embrace “Old Town Road” remains to be seen. That’s because, when it comes to charts and common practices, country isn’t a genre or a set of sounds as much as it is an oligarchy, the product of a limited number of record labels; a media environment that relies heavily on radio (with programmers who can lack imagination, as female country performers have long known); and a profound bottleneck in terms of new talent and new ideas. (To be fair, country is not alone in this: In 2012, the K-pop novelty star Psy went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart with “Gangnam Style,” which was — and remains — one of the biggest viral YouTube songs in history, but was by no means a rap song in the American context.)
Nashville’s initial resistance suggests some unfortunate things about country as a genre: that it might not be able to make fun of itself; that it might look askance at outsiders, especially black performers; that it understands itself only through the lens of protecting its central ideology, and not as an omnivorous sound in dialogue with the rest of pop, and the rest of America. Country music is preoccupied with borders, and it treats each new incursion as an opportunity for identity crisis. It’s a wild contrast with contemporary hip-hop, which understands itself as music that borrows widely, and experiments with glee.
But perhaps the greatest indictment of how the country music leadership handled “Old Town Road” comes from a cursory listen to some other songs on the chart. Take “Look What God Gave Her,” the new single by Thomas Rhett, perhaps the ur-country gentleman of the last few years. It’s a soft soul song with a faint disco undertow, nothing country about it beyond the perceived affiliation of the performer. Elsewhere there are soft-rock ballads and R&B songs, none of them subject to anything like the skepticism that has greeted Lil Nas X, whose reference points might in fact be more classically country (even if refracted through a kitsch lens).
Which means that the Lil Nas X controversy boils down to a conversation about who is entitled to lay public claim to Southern tropes that country music believes it has monopolized (but in truth, has been less and less reliant on in recent years). That it’s happening at a moment featuring more black country music performers than any in recent memory — Darius Rucker, Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton and many more — is especially discouraging.
On its own terms, “Old Town Road” has been a wild success. And when it comes the music business’s terms, well, that’s being reverse engineered. Following the Cyrus remix, Lil Nas X teased another with Young Thug.
In truth, “Old Town Road” isn’t quite fully country or hip-hop, at least not in the ways those genres taxonomize themselves. It’s something far more slippery, slithering between the two spaces and arriving at pop novelty. This is where songs that have been disowned by their ostensible homes but provide uncomplicated pleasure often land — embraced widely even as they’re kept at arms length locally.
But it is too potent to remain that way. It certainly won’t be long before some country singers incorporate it into their live sets. Country stations are beginning to play the song, which serves as a kind of proxy for acceptance. And indeed, Billboard recently announced that it might revisit its decision to include “Old Town Road” on its main country chart — after all, country is as country allows itself to be.B:
管家婆注册码怎么获取【马】【七】【本】【不】【是】【军】【中】【人】，【受】【前】【面】【影】【响】，【也】【喊】【了】【一】【句】“【在】！” 【霍】【去】【病】【道】：“【你】【且】【在】【军】【中】【休】【息】。” 【也】【不】【多】【话】，【霍】【去】【病】【带】【着】【几】【个】【军】【侯】【校】【尉】，【跨】【步】【出】【了】【大】【帐】。 【不】【到】【一】【盏】【茶】【时】【间】，【营】【寨】【大】【门】【开】【启】，【三】【支】【人】【马】【鱼】【贯】【出】【营】。 【马】【七】【心】【中】【不】【由】【再】【赞】【一】【声】：“【好】【一】【支】【精】【锐】【部】【队】！” 【一】【盏】【茶】，【就】【是】【三】【五】【分】【钟】【时】【间】，【霍】【去】【病】【的】【大】【军】
【郑】【高】【原】【心】【心】【念】【念】【的】【结】【婚】【一】【直】【拖】【到】【了】【三】【年】【后】。 【许】【悠】【悠】【正】【式】【接】【手】【公】【司】，【参】【与】【决】【策】，【许】【季】【同】【和】【许】【老】【爷】【子】【同】【时】【在】【背】【后】【坐】【镇】，【任】【谁】【都】【不】【敢】【欺】【负】【许】【悠】【悠】【这】【个】【年】【轻】【的】【总】【经】【理】。 【许】【悠】【悠】【刚】【刚】【下】【飞】【机】，【正】【赶】【往】【公】【司】，【坐】【在】【车】【内】，【闭】【目】【养】【神】，【在】【工】【作】【之】【前】，【抓】【紧】【时】【间】【休】【息】【一】【下】。 【开】【车】【的】【人】【是】【小】【海】，【他】【已】【经】【从】【名】【牌】【大】【学】【毕】【业】，【进】【入】【许】
“【所】【以】【那】【个】【横】【平】【爆】【炸】【案】【的】【凶】【手】【还】【没】【抓】【住】【咯】？”【王】【暮】【雪】【边】【朝】【鱼】【七】【问】【道】，【边】【用】【叉】【子】【插】【起】【一】【块】【切】【好】【的】【牛】【排】【放】【到】【他】【的】【盘】【子】【里】。 “【我】【自】【己】【这】【块】【都】【吃】【不】【完】……”【鱼】【七】【看】【着】【面】【前】【盘】【中】【两】【个】【巴】【掌】【那】【么】【大】【的】【黑】【椒】【牛】【排】【道】。 “【多】【吃】【点】【儿】！”【王】【暮】【雪】【嘻】【嘻】【一】【笑】，【其】【实】【她】【不】【喜】【欢】【吃】【西】【餐】，【从】【小】【到】【大】【都】【没】【真】【正】【喜】【欢】【过】，【但】【奈】【何】【只】【有】【西】【餐】【可】【以】【在】
“【那】【些】【远】【行】【的】【人】，【离】【开】【的】【自】【己】【曾】【经】【最】【想】【要】【离】【开】【的】【地】【方】，【去】【自】【己】【想】【要】【去】【的】【世】【界】。 【但】【是】【当】【走】【到】【自】【己】【曾】【经】【想】【要】【到】【达】【的】【地】【方】【时】，【才】【发】【现】【那】【个】【自】【己】【一】【直】【想】【要】【离】【开】【的】【地】【方】，【才】【是】【自】【己】【可】【望】【而】【不】【可】【及】。” 【夏】【暖】【暖】【一】【边】【敲】【打】【着】【自】【己】【的】【电】【脑】，【一】【边】【关】【注】【着】【电】【脑】【上】【显】【示】【的】【时】【间】。 ………… 【终】【于】【在】【半】【个】【小】【时】【后】，【夏】【暖】【暖】【整】【个】【人】【有】管家婆注册码怎么获取【圣】【光】【之】【理】【教】【廷】【的】【教】【皇】【陛】【下】，【哪】【怕】【称】【其】【为】【整】【个】【刀】【塔】【大】【陆】【最】【有】【权】【势】【的】【人】【也】【不】【为】【过】。【单】【纯】【以】【信】【徒】【数】【量】【而】【论】，【巅】【峰】【时】【期】【圣】【光】【之】【信】【徒】【的】【数】【量】【足】【足】【占】【据】【大】【陆】【总】【人】【口】【的】【五】【分】【之】【四】。 【虽】【然】【这】【几】【百】【年】【来】【随】【着】【各】【大】【帝】【国】【的】【崛】【起】，【不】【仅】【是】【几】【大】【亚】【人】【帝】【国】【都】【拥】【有】【各】【自】【供】【奉】【的】【神】【明】，【就】【连】【人】【类】【建】【立】【的】【新】【兴】【国】【家】【也】【都】【不】【再】【供】【奉】【圣】【光】【之】【主】，【改】【为】【侍】【奉】【其】
【可】【是】【她】【现】【在】【也】【都】【得】【在】【这】【边】【忍】【住】，【不】【能】【对】【连】【翘】【表】【现】【得】【太】【过】，【要】【不】【然】【她】【也】【都】【会】【陷】【入】【一】【种】【说】【不】【出】【来】【的】【恶】【循】【环】【当】【中】。 【大】【概】……【也】【只】【有】【等】【到】【自】【己】【的】【身】【体】【恢】【复】【了】，【又】【或】【者】【是】【他】【们】【真】【的】【肯】【相】【信】【自】【己】【是】【雪】【无】【双】【的】【时】【候】。 【现】【在】【所】【经】【历】【的】【这】【一】【些】，【才】【会】【有】【一】【个】【合】【理】【的】【解】【释】。 【只】【是】【到】【了】【那】【个】【时】【候】，【所】【面】【临】【的】【是】【什】【么】，【或】【者】【大】【家】【的】【心】【态】
【那】【天】，【天】【气】【正】【好】。【糯】【米】【团】【子】【一】【般】【可】【爱】【的】【乔】【宝】【正】【在】【医】【馆】【角】【落】【的】【一】【张】【小】【书】【桌】【边】【读】【书】。 【吉】【祥】【正】【在】【给】【一】【位】【孕】【妇】【诊】【脉】。【乔】【宝】【儿】【读】【书】【累】【了】【跑】【过】【来】，【看】【吉】【祥】【给】【孕】【妇】【把】【脉】。 【吉】【祥】【怕】【乔】【宝】【儿】【碰】【到】【孕】【妇】，【哄】【劝】【着】：“【宝】【贝】【儿】，【去】【一】【边】【玩】【儿】【啊】！” 【乔】【宝】【儿】【歪】【头】【盯】【着】【孕】【妇】【的】【肚】【子】【突】【然】【说】【道】：“【娘】，【我】【想】【和】【小】【弟】【弟】【玩】【儿】！” 【那】【孕】【妇】【惊】
【高】【大】【树】【木】【上】，【姜】【云】【看】【了】【一】【眼】【月】【影】【鹿】【大】【致】【奔】【跑】【的】【方】【向】，【瞳】【中】【光】【芒】【闪】【动】。 【在】【月】【影】【林】【中】【的】【草】【地】【上】，【能】【够】【看】【到】【一】【些】【草】，【并】【不】【同】【于】【其】【它】【的】【草】。 【这】【些】【草】【的】【草】【叶】【前】【端】【数】【公】【分】【呈】【现】【银】【色】，【闪】【动】【着】【淡】【淡】【银】【色】【光】【泽】。 【这】【种】【草】【名】【为】【月】【露】【草】，【勉】【强】【算】【是】【一】【品】【灵】【草】，【相】【比】【于】【其】【他】【的】【草】，【吸】【收】【了】【一】【点】【月】【之】【精】【华】。 【这】【种】【月】【露】【草】【是】【月】【影】【鹿】【最】