Lil Nas X, 20, and Billy Ray Cyrus, 57, took their horse to the old town road at the BET Awards in Los Angeles on June 23 and their duet was a big hit with the celeb-filled crowd. The rapper and the singer rocked the audience with their performance of their smash hit collaboration, “Old Town Road.”
The duo looked like they were born to perform together. Baring his chest, Lil Nas X wore a lemon-colored cowboy jacket and matching chaps, in addition to a Stetson hat. Billy Ray was all in black and looked like the country rocker that he is. In a presumably pre-filmed segment the two literally rode up to the venue before entering on to the stage, which was set up like an old-school saloon from the Wild West. With line dancers performing on stage and rappers like Cardi B standing up and cheering in the audience, it was a true meshing of genres.
It was another win for the duo who paired up to defy expectations with Lil Nas X’s song, which was yanked off Billboard’s Country chart in March because it “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music,” according to the publication. The remix featuring Billy Ray Cyrus certainly called that into question and proved that “Old Town Road” had enough elements of a No. 1 hit. In fact, on June 17 the song scored yet another week on the publication’s Hot 100 chart, bringing it to a total of 11 weeks in that position.
On April 5, after the remix became a viral sensation, Billy Ray explained how the collaboration came about. “It was so obvious to me after hearing the song just one time. I was thinking, what’s not country about it? What’s the rudimentary element of a country and western song?” the “Achy Breaky Heart” singer tweeted. “Then I thought, it’s honest, humble, and has an infectious hook, and a banjo. What the hell more do ya need? A few days passed and I went to the studio to do vocals. When I finished the pass, I whistled at the end of the song. Thats [sic] when the engineer stood up and said, ‘that sh*t is fire.’ We’re keeping that! Glad you gusys [sic] are diggin’ the tune, love seeing all your meme’s [sic] …. #OTR.”
In a tweet on June 8 Lil Nas X revealed that the song is deeper than just being a country trap hit you can dance too. Breaking down some of the lyrics, he wrote, “When I said ‘I got the horses in the back’ it was in reference to reversing the ongoing climate change, water pollution, and catastrophic political climate we are witnessing in these trying times.”
Whatever the origins of the lyrics of the song, it definitely is a crowd pleaser, which was abundantly clear at the BET Awards.