Front Burner

A controversy over race, rap and country music

For weeks, the song Old Town Road by rapper Lil Nas X had been climbing the country music charts. After Billboard disqualified the hit saying it wasn’t "country" enough, there’s been a big conversation about genre, authorship and race. Brittany Spanos from Rolling Stone breaks it down.
Lil Nas X's song Old Town Road went viral with help from the app TikTok. (@lilnasx/Instagram)
Listen to the full episode18:36

Today on Front Burner, a controversy about music, authorship and race.

For weeks, the song Old Town Road by rapper Lil Nas X had been climbing the country music charts. After Billboard disqualified the hit saying it wasn't "country" enough, there have been accusations the song was taken off because it was created by a black artist.

Brittany Spanos from Rolling Stone says she thinks "our music divisions come down to race," citing the misclassification of pop stars like Janelle Monáe and Beyonce as R&B. "A lot of ways we look at genre are based on racial stereotypes."

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