Lil Nas X is making history again. This time, it’s actually in country music. Surprise surprise!
The “Old Town Road” rapper is nominated along with his collaborator Billy Ray Cyrus by the Country Music Awards in the Musical Event of the Year category. The nod makes him the first out gay Black man to be recognized by the Nashville awards body.
Such a recognition is doubly notable, however, considering the early reception “Old Town Road” received from the country music establishment. When it debuted, the track, which has an obvious country twang to it, was booted off of Billboard’s Country charts. Although some have called its genre country trap, the music chart’s magazine said “its trap beat, a lack of country airplay, no involvement by Sony Music Nashville and mixed categorization and playlisting on leading streaming services” factored into the decision.
After the track sparked massive debate online about what constitutes a country song, , Cyrus lent his vocals to a remix of “Old Town Road.” It quickly rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, going onto become the longest running no. 1 in history.
Considering this backstory — and country music’s notoriously presumed conservatism — the CMA nomination is historic, as well as further evidence of “Old Town Road’s” power. It will compete with Maren Morris' “All My Favorite People,” Brooks & Dunn's “Brand New Man," Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton's "Dive Bar," and Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell's “What Happens in a Small Town” in the Musical Event of the Year category. We all know who the winner should be.
The CMA nomination comes two days after Nas X became the first LGBTQ+ musician to win ‘Song of the Year’ at VMAs for the same track.
Nas X, 20, came out in June during Pride.