In December 2018, burgeoning rapper Lil Nas X released his song “Old Town Road” online. By April, the “country trap” single had become a monster hit, with its success fueled in part by debate over its country music bona fides; the simple, snappy song has since held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a record-breaking 14 weeks straight. And along the way, its popularity has been bolstered by two different remixes, featuring certified country artist Billy Ray Cyrus and DJ Diplo, respectively.
Now, Lil Nas X has released yet another version of “Old Town Road,” and this time he’s joined by a seriously weird motley crew. But I mean that in a good way; the rapper has wrangled his now-regular collaborator Billy Ray Cyrus, his fellow Atlanta native Young Thug, and 13-year-old country singer Mason Ramsey — better known as the Walmart yodeling kid, who starred in that viral video last spring where he yodeled. In a Walmart.
How Lil Nas X decided on this grouping is beyond me. The famously social media-savvy artist has offered no explanation as to how the collab came to be. But no matter: This latest version of “Old Town Road” is as fun as ever, and perhaps more so than earlier remixes, courtesy of Young Thug and Mason Ramsey’s own lightly country-tinged takes on the song’s lonely cowboy theme.
To hear Ramsey, a teen who rode his internet fame into a record deal, sing the lines, “If you don’t got no giddee up, then giddee out my way,” is a pleasure I didn’t know I wanted. And Young Thug’s emphatic “yeehaws” pack more energy than one might expect from a rapper who’s never dabbled in the cowboy aesthetic before.
Lil Nas X now has both a full EP (on which “Old Town Road” accounts for two of the seven tracks) and four iterations of “Old Town Road” under his belt. And that’s raised a new question in many people’s minds: Is “Old Town Road” a sort of “We Are the World” in waiting, a platform for all kinds of musicians to team up and throw down a verse or three on top this inimitable beat? I, for one, can only hope for a future in which this tweet from a fellow Lil Nas X fan is fact, not fiction:
The year is 2071. The number one song in America is Old Town Road Remix No. 19274 by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Mason Ramsey, Young Thug, Yoko Ono, the Wiggles, Tupac’s hologram, the cast of Hamilton, Clay Aiken— hello (@postdunk) July 12, 2019