For the first six months of 2019, only four albums were certified gold and platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. None of those albums were from the country genre, while three were from hip-hop. Only two country albums released in 2018 were certified gold in the same year they were released: Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty and Jason Aldean’s Rearview Town. Both were certified gold between August and October 2018, so in back-to-back years, country music didn’t produce a single gold- or platinum-certified album in the first half of the year. “The game has changed where hip-hop is the top earner,” Gilmore said. “We’re seeing the actualization of hip-hop being pop.”
A teenager mixed the 808 bass bounce of hip-hop with Wrangler jeans and Billy Ray Cyrus’s horse-riding musings to make the longest-running No. 1 song in the 60-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Regardless of whether you hear country, rap or both when you listen to Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road (Remix),” its impact is undeniable and yet still understated. The song revealed a viable market for music that fuses country with hip-hop.
Nashville is a place where a rapper like Petty is repurposing Ray Charles’s timeless 1960 sclassic “Hit the Road Jack” for his “Get Your Hoe [[Ho?]] Back” onstage at the Underflow. “Urban music is having an influence on country music, and because of that the local urban music scene in Nashville will be able to benefit from that shift,” Holt said.
The night was capped off with Tay Keith’s mosh pit–inducing DJ set. The infectious energy of the crowd had carried over from the hometown artists’ sets, and by the time the fifth straight Billboard hit blared through the speakers at Marathon Music Works, it was clear: Nashville may be the historic home of country music, but hip-hop is quickly becoming the new sound of the country.
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