Bad news for the Lil Nas X camp today. According to a Rolling Stone report, Billboard reportedly removed the song “Old Town Road” from the country songs chart because it was deemed not a true country music song. Lil Nas X’s label, Columbia Records was informed that his inclusion was a mistake. A note on the Billboard chart site shows Lil Nas X appears to have had the “highest ranking debut” on the chart. “Old Town Road” debuted at no. 19.
Billboard did not publicly announce the change, but in a statement released to Rolling Stone, the publication said that “upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard‘s country charts. When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. 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.”
A Billboard representative provided another statement to Rolling Stone indicating that race did not play a part in Lil Nas X’s track being removed from the country chart. Though, in the past, Billboard has had a history of defining genres by race.
An insider with knowledge of the matter reportedly spoke to Rolling Stone and posed the question, “When do we get to the point where [black artists] can be accepted and played on other formats?”
Lil Nas X hasn’t released an official statement in response to the news, but appears to have expressed disappointment in Billboard’s decision on social media. The Atlanta artist retweeted the info and posted a sad face emoji on Twitter and an excerpt from the Rolling Stone report to his Instagram account that stated, “Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ blew up so fast radio professionals had to rip it from YouTube to play it on the air, and the music industry is still scrambling to decide what, exactly, to call it.”