Jake Owen Is Collaborating With Controversial Country Rapper Lil Nas X
Jake Owen's musical tastes are very wide, and in a new interview, the country singer reveals that he is collaborating with a controversial young rapper named Lil Nas X, who created a stir online after his debut single went viral before being removed from Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.
The Atlanta-based rapper went viral with the video for "Old Town Road," which juxtaposes a hip-hop beat with a banjo and traditional country lyricism. The video borrows heavily from Old West imagery, and it swept the internet after it became popular via the TikTok app in March, debuting at No. 19 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart on March 16.
Billboard later removed "Old Town Road" from consideration for that chart, saying it didn't have enough country elements to warrant inclusion and telling the rapper's label that its initial inclusion was a mistake. The decision sparked massive debate online as to whether race might have played a role in Billboard's decision. The magazine denied that, and Lil Nas X's manager tells Rolling Stone he doesn't believe it did, either, admitting his client listed the song as country on various musical services because it's a genre in which it's easier to gain traction, but "that's a hip-hop song."
Watch: Keith Urban Covers "Old Town Road"
Owen turned to Twitter on Wednesday (March 27) to comment on the flap, extending an invitation to the rapper to collaborate.
In an interview with SiriusXM's The Highway on Friday (March 29), Owen confirmed to host Storme Warren that the proposed collaboration is going forward.
"We are. It's happening," Owen states. "You'll find out soon, my friend!"
Owen emphasized that he's not concerned about perceptions around genre.
"I've always loved every kind of music, and he wrote a song that came out, people obviously liked it enough to where it starts popping up charting on a country hit," he observes. "Now, there's definitely elements that people think are country or aren't country, but I think at the end of the day, for me, anything that seems to pop up on our radar and people like it, it's welcome. I leave my doors open any time, because you never know what's gonna walk through."
Owen released his new studio album, Greetings From ... Jake, on Friday. The album features the platinum-selling No. 1 single “I Was Jack (You��Were Diane)” and Owen's current hit, “Down to the Honkytonk,” which is nominated for Single of the Year at the 2019 ACM Awards. It also features a collaboration with Kid Rock on a humorous, uplifting track titled "Grass Is Always Greener."