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22 May 2019

Old Town Road (ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)

by Alice May

Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road (ft. Billy Ray Cyrus)” - 5 mins 06s

Why did no-one think of it before? Of course hip-hop and country are a match made in heaven. It's so obvious listening to this, dammit. Thank you, Lil Naz (real name Montero Hill) for exploding onto the music scene with this magical number, and for asking the universe (okay, Twitter) for Billy Ray Cyrus to contribute a verse. Because that's exactly what happened.

The hitherto unsigned artist suddenly found himself with a record deal and a promo featuring Billy Ray himself - along with a glut of other stellar names including Chris Rock, Haha Davis, Rico Nasty, Diplo, Jozzy, Young Kio, and Vince Staples.

In the clip, Naz finds himself transported through time - from a tight spot as a bank robber in the old wild west - to contemporary LA; stunning the neighbourhood he lands in. He quickly regains his composure, finds his horse, and out-gallops a car for a bet. It's beautifully done. The driver is happy to have lost in such an astonishing way and the song fades in and out to accommodate his admiring words.

The whole thing feels joyous, in fact. Lil Naz is uber-cool... yet when he smiles it becomes a huge, glorious grin of sheer delight at the situation his music has created for him. It's infectious. We can't help grinning back; especially when we see his character step out of a store having swapped his dusty old gear for some bling new threads bought with his winnings.

His old partner in crime (Cyrus) turns up, cruising in a cherry-red Maserati. Lil Naz hops in. Cyrus appears to be fizzing with the same degree of poise and suppressed glee, and this too is a pleasure to note.

It's a testament to the skill of director Calmatic that the video doesn't succumb to too much slickness. Silliness and fun are the order of the day - even the big hitters playing cameos in no way overshadow Naz or get too much screen time. It's pitched to perfection, and we hope it will help usher in a whole new crossover genre. Who next? Dolly Parton and Drake? Kenny Rogers and Kanye? We can't wait.

Commissioner: Saul Levitz
Film Production: PrettyBird Ⓟ Ⓦ
Director: Calmatic
Producer: Melissa Larsen
Production Co-ord: Rachel Ottenstein
Production Ass'nt: Cheyenne Miller
1st AD: Jey Wada
Executive Producer: Candice Dragonas
Post Production: Sara Gbadamosi @ Electric Theatre Collective Ⓟ Ⓦ
VFX: Tommy Smith / Phoebe Britton / James Aguilar / Ujala Saini / Benoit Mannequin / Josh Guillaume / Martin Karlsson @ Electric Theatre Collective Ⓟ Ⓦ
Colourist: Jason Wallis

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