Lil Nas X’s genre-bending single “Old Town Road” is heralding a new moment for the music industry as his country-trap fusion continues to dominate the charts. In a short time, the song has broken records, helped the Yeehaw Agenda flourish and spawned conversation around the historical exclusion of Black artists in the country scene after Billboard’s controversial decision to pull it from their country chart.
While speaking with "People NOW" on Monday (July 15), the hosts of the digital series asked Nelly for his thoughts on Lil Nas’ country-trap fusion, which comes 15 years later after he made inroads to shepherd country-rap into mainstream circles when he linked up with country icon Tim McGraw on “Over and Over.”
“I think the way they kind of tried to take him off of a certain genre of music... I think that was B.S.” the Country Grammar rapper said matter-of-factly, without any hesitation. “For him to even make it onto country charts, first of all, you have to be requested.”
He also had a rebuttal for Billboard’s rationale of “Old Town Road” not being country enough, pointing to the swell of support and airplay the song was generating.
“You’re not getting hip-hop [fans] calling into to a country station saying, ‘Play this song,” he said. “You’re getting country fans calling in or country radio requesting the song so in order for his song to move up, it had to be getting requested by those fans. I think in that respect, it makes the song relevant in that space.”
The rapper ended his commentary with a message of praise of encouragement for Lil Nas. He saluted the 20-year-old for standing tall in his truth and being open about his sexual orientation.
“I know he’s recently came full circle with who he wants to be in life and who he is, and I send out blessings to him for that and compliment him on his courage,” Nelly said.
Towards the end of the clip, the hosts asked Nelly if he faced any push-back against “Over and Over” when it first came out. Because his song was released 15 years ago, Nelly acknowledged that his situation isn't at all the same as what Lil Nas X is experiencing.
“The thing about social media is that you know everything now. Back then, even if there was a little push-back, I might not have known it at the time,” the rap star said.
“One thing that I feel pretty blessed about is, when I did do it, it wasn't in a sense of me trying to force myself into country music, but that I was a Tim McGraw fan. I just wanted to do a record with him."
(Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty Images)