Lil Nas X finally shared the message behind his viral hit “Old Town Road.”
When Lil Nas recorded the song, he was a recent college dropout who lived in his sister’s crowded home with two additional siblings. After his sister said he had to leave, the 20-year-old came up with the horseback riding metaphor. He explained his creative process for his first cover story ever.
“Around this time, my sister was like, ‘It's time to go.’ She has kids, too. It made sense,” he told Teen Vogue. “'Take my horse to the old town road and ride till I can't no more' basically means just running away, and everything is just gone. The horse is metaphorical for not having anything or just the little things that you do have, and it’s with you. The ‘old town road,’ that’s what I’m on now. It’s never-ending until you're gone — till you can’t no more.”
Lil Nas X bought the beat created by producer YoungKio and finished the song in about a month.
“When I first heard the beat and its guitar sample, I was like, 'This is a sad cowboy going through some shit,' and I thought I could put my situation on it,” he recalled.
After the song went viral, controversy followed after Billboard blocked the song’s entry into the country music charts, as Blavity previously reported. Lil Nas X eventually recruited country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus for the remix and the song topped the Hot 100 list in early April. The rapper believes country music purists were behind the hoopla.
“I had this idea in mind at first, but then as I went on to think about it, I was like, Maybe because [the] country [music industry] is guarded,” he explained. “You can have your country song with trap elements, but if it’s by known country artists, then it's allowed. A black guy who raps comes along, and he's on top of the country chart, it's like, ‘What the f*ck?’"
The Atlanta native is thankful the song’s popularity didn’t end after the drama subsided.
“It definitely played a part, but it didn't overpower to the point where the Billboard situation was bigger than the song,” he said. “By me being involved in something like that, it doesn't make me feel bad. It makes me feel even more accomplished in a way.”