For a long time now, I have quoted Steve Earle‘s thoughts on country music today
I 100% believe this….or I should say, I did believe this. We are now going to have our first freaky field test of this theory.
First, a track review. I am not going to give it a NOT GOOD, but it is very poor. Its that lazy kind of trap rap that all the kids love, and I hate. Where the location of the beat drop is more important than the quality of the music or the lyrics. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a parody. Nope. It isn’t. This dude is from Atlanta and buys into all of that country stuff. Its the kind of song that I would give a second thought to.
However, the kids don’t agree with me. Through a combination of Tik Tok, memes (so Tik Tok), and just that internet spread, the song gained popularity. Enough to get him signed with Columbia, who promptly released it last week as a single. Where it shot up to #1 on streaming and the country charts.
This caused the first piece to be set in motion. Billboard pulled Old Town Road from the country charts, citing its lack of “embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
I am fucking FACINATED by this. Cause lets look at two big as country singles of recent years:
Both of these songs fucking suck.
But thats not the point. There are two differences: 1) They are inspired by a different period of rap (a combination of the bling era and the gangsta era ) vs the trap rap of today and 2) Lil Nas X is black. And not just that. From atlanta, not from Nashville. No steel guitars. No Fender Telecaster strumming. Trap beats Atlanta, GA.
Lil Nas X is CLEARLY much smarter than me. Cause then he did the 4D chess move to prove my point about country music afraid of black people.
He released the exact same fucking song with Billy Ray Cyrus singing the hook in the beginning and the verse at the end.
Billy Ray fucking Cyrus. The man who popularized pop country. The man who got thrown off the charts for not being country enough himself. As the kids say, Lil Nas X is out here playing 4D chess. He has taken minimal viable product theory and pushed it to its limits. Now what do you say country music?
This leaves country music with an interesting decision. Evolve or Die. Continue to do stupid shit or follow the money.
My theory, Steve Earle and myself will be proven wrong. Black country rap will become a thing. And it will be crazy popular.
Only time will tell, but for now: Lil Nas X, I tip my hat to you. Well played sir. Well played.