OTR (Old Town Road)
I’m hopping straight into this one- no cap.
Let me start off by saying— Old Town Road, in its original form, is a country song. It’s obvious. What I find so surprising, is Billboard’s failure to recognize this country song…as country. While many might view this as a one-off, I’m absolutely going to pull up the fact that 1) the song was dismissed by Billboard until Billy Ray Cyrus (A COUNTRY ARTIST) admitted that the song was undeniably a country hit, and then continued on to remix it , 2) obviously it’s a country song…again and 3) there is an understanding that country music cannot possibly authentically come from black folk.
Let’s take a minute to dissect here.
For those of you who’d like to claim that country cannot coexist with hip hop/trap/rap vibes, let’s not forget Nelly x Tim McGraw on Over and Over or even Beyonce on Daddy’s Lessons (with and without the Dixie Chicks). Let’s also not leave out the fact that while country has earned its name as a predominantly white genre, its roots are closely tied to that of black folks since country music became its own genre. Historically, country music is tied very closely to folk and blues, and often spoke to experience of southern, black folks- BY southern black folks.
Experiences like Kane Browns’ and Darius Rucker’s in validating themselves as a country artists cannot be so easily looked over in conversations like these. It goes without saying that the hegemonic ideal of a cowboy- a white, masculine man on the strong-back of a stallion, yeehawing his way into the sunset is exclusive of who truly emulates a country image in its purest form.
The reclamation of the country image continues to be challenged by black artists like Solange in Way to the Show, amongst other visual creatives like Brad Trent, Deanna Lawson, and Ron Tarver who were all featured in the 2016 Studio Museum in Harlem, highlighting the “Black Cowboy”. While the traditional yeehaw agenda fit a caucasian bill, I for one, am excited to see the black yeehaw agenda come to fruition.
Let’s finish this one off by saying:
Black folks have and always will be be apart of country culture.
Black folks existed and exist as cowboys/cowgirls.
Black folks created and continue to create authentic country music.
The country culture is not limited to hegemonic ideals we’ve been and continue to be fed.
I’d like to tie all of this in with the wise words of Billy Ray Cyrus:
With THAT being said- here’s a look inspired by all the controversy surrounding Lil Nas X’s country hit. Enjoy.
vintage overalls / fila disruptors / Steve madden mini backpack