Lil Nas X has released his third “Old Town Road” remix, and odds are it won’t be his last.
The video to this latest track, which was uploaded on YouTube Tuesday, is a cartoon take on Area 51, a meme-turned-potential national security threat, setting up the clip for viral attention — something the 20-year-old Atlanta rapper is a master at. You can’t escape the soft banjo twangs or head-bopping trap beat of the single, this year’s summer anthem, now dominating the Billboard Hot 100 for the 15th week.
Now Lil Nas X is on a remix craze — striving to keep up with the momentum his breakout song continues to offer.
So far, the rapper has three remixes of the song, including the version that he rode to superstardom alongside none other than OG country star Billy Ray Cyrus — a collaboration inspired by Billboard removing “Old Town Road” from its country music charts in April for not having enough elements of country.
DJ and producer Diplo was recruited in late April to add a funky EDM beat to the track, which was performed at Stagecoach Festival. Lil Nas X’s latest features yodeling wunderkind Mason Ramsey (yes, the kid who went viral for yodeling in Walmart) and fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug. The accompanying music video is a chaotic animation of the four artists storming Area 51, which cleverly reflected the latest Internet trend as much as it is a marketing ploy for his debut EP "7.″ Each remix also has its own galloping horse artwork, with each artist represented as a different colored horse. (Lil Nas X is the original black stallion.)
On Tuesday, Lil Wayne confirmed in an interview with XXL Mag that he recorded an official “Old Town Road” remix, but he wasn’t sure where it was in the production and release process. And on Twitter, Lil Nas X has entertained the idea of even more remixes. He suggested bringing on Dolly Parton, as well as rapper Megan Thee Stallion; he responded to a congratulatory tweet from Bruno Mars with, “Bruno can we tell them about your remix now bro.” Heck, even the rock band Smash Mouth is tweeting that it wants in.
But why so many remixes? After all, there are only a handful of ways a single (a highly successful one at that) can be redone uniquely. “Old Town Road” has evolved from its Internet roots — a rap-infused country song that TikTok users edited over silly videos — to a radio banger. And it seems like audiences of all ages keep wanting more.
The new remixes slightly deviate from Lil Nas X’s original: His alluring drawl and unforgettable verses remain intact, although edited with a faster electronic beat or supplemented with another artist’s vocals. But it matters little whom he features; his fans are simply delighted that there is another “Old Town Road” remix, that there’s another track to play incessantly on loop this summer.
Sure, it’s cool that he brought on purveyors of the yeehaw agenda (Ramsey, Cyrus) or created a dance track to be seamlessly integrated into rave sets. But that’s not his main motive.
“Old Town Road” is linked to Lil Nas X’s fate as an artist and is responsible for the trajectory of his music career. It paved the way for his contract with Columbia Records in March, and he’s undoubtedly milking the platinum hit for as much as it could muster. At its heart, the single is a brand of the cowboy-hat-clad rapper, who is at the peak of his fame.
The remixes aren’t groundbreaking; they feature new verses and minor tweaks but just enough to pique the curiosity of the listener. And in the world of music streaming, that might just be enough — for audiences to keep on listening.