Billy Ray Cyrus Compares Lil Nas X to Waylon Jennings
Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus gave their debut joint live performance of heir smash hit collaboration, "Old Town Road," last month during the Stagecoach Festival. In an interview with ABC's Nightline, Cyrus describes his new collaborator as an outlaw and even compares him to country icon Waylon Jennings.
The collaboration between the unlikely pair has been No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for many weeks, has reached triple-platinum status and has been streamed more than a billion times.
Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, explains that he paid $30 for the beat of "Old Town Road" and didn't meet the producer until their Stagecoach debut.
“Life was me moving from sibling to sibling[‘s] house, promoting my music through Twitter… barely getting a reaction out of anything,” he says. “Then I find this beat on YouTube which is ‘Old Town Road,’ beat by this guy named YoungKio… and I made this song.”
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Once "Old Town Road" was axed from Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for not embracing "enough elements of today's country music to chart in its current version," Cyrus took note and decided to reach out.
“I just thought, ‘Wait, that's not fair,’” Cyrus explains. “Waylon being one of the greatest outlaws in the history of country music, and he said to me, ‘The definition of an outlaw is one who has been outlawed.’”
Cyrus says that he thought the song “was a smash.”
“When I hear something, I don't necessarily try to define it by what is its musical genre,” he continues. “I say, ‘Do I relate to that song? Does it feel like my roots?' 'Old Town Road’ was all of me — it was my past, present and future. It had everything that I'd been raised on my whole life — banjo, bluegrass and solid country hook.”
Cyrus explains that the success of the song and determining its genre has everything to do with the fans and not the critics, noting, "If they dig it, then it's country." He goes onto say, “It was about people driving the song, not about a critic saying, 'No, this doesn’t fit our rule book.'"
At 57, Cyrus reveals that he "never thought I'd feel anything like this ever again."
“I've been a part of a couple of things that were described at the time as a phenomenon, including ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ and Hannah Montana. And this song, and this moment and this movement feels like all of that plus more.”
Lil Nas X will be releasing an EP this summer, while Cyrus' most recent album, The Snakedoctor Circus, is available now.
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