It has been years since he had a mainstream hit on his hands but now a collaboration with Lil Nas X has sent him to the top of the charts and attracted an unlikely legion of fans along the way.
Cyrus sent a tweet to Lil Nas X after Billboard decided that the rapper’s song, Old Town Road, was “not country enough” to be on its Hot Country chart.
Billboard said the song “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version” despite its twanging banjo.
The removal of the song sparked a fierce debate — white country artists like Florida Georgia Line use hip hop beats in their songs, why can’t a black artist embrace country beats?
Cyrus was confused as well.
“Been watching everything going on with OTR [Old Town Road],’ he began in the tweet. “When I got thrown off the charts, Waylon Jennings said to me ‘Take this as a compliment’ means you’re doing something great! Only Outlaws are outlawed. Welcome to the club!”
Then Lil Nas X reached out and invited Cyrus to collaborate on the track.
The track has been embraced by the hip hop community as well as the country crowd. It has also shot up to #1 on Spotify and iTunes.
“I’ve never had a writing/recording session like this,” 57-year old Cyrus said in a video. “I used to play as a kid in this town called Argillite, Kentucky and there was an old, covered bridge outside Argillite called Old Town and there was the road that led to the covered bridge was Old Town Road. I heard this song and I go my gosh I just love what this is saying, plus I can relate to this.”
The collaboration has had social media users cheering as well as celebrities like Cyrus’ daughter, Miley, and Will Smith.
There’s no official word on whether the remixed version will be eligible for inclusion in Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.