Nelly Says Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' Belongs in Country Music

Rapper Nelly is defending Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," and its inclusion in country music. The song made a brief debut on the country charts, before being pulled because it wasn't deemed country enough, something Nelly says is unfair.

"I congratulate anyone that has any type of success in this business," Nelly told PEOPLE. "I'm never the one to be like, 'Yo, that song shouldn't be a hit,' because if you have fans, if you touch people in the manner to which they feel they want to support you, I think it's awesome. I think the way they tried to take him off of a certain genre of music, I think that was B.S., because obviously for him to even make it on to country charts, first of all, you have to be requested.

"The only way you get requested is by people who are listening to that radio station calling in," he continued. "You're not getting hip-hop artists calling in to a country station saying, 'Play this song.' That's not what's happening. You're getting country fans calling in and requesting the song. So in order for his song to move up, it had to be getting requested by those fans. So I think, in that respect, it makes that song relevant in that space."

Nelly knows a little bit about what Lil Nas X is facing. In 2004, Nelly collaborated with Tim McGraw on "Over and Over," which became a No. 1 pop hit. But because the song was released 15 years ago, Nelly acknowledges his situation isn't at all the same as what Lil Nas X is experiencing.

"The thing about social media is that you know everything now," conceded the music star. "You find out what everybody's thinking. There's no secret. Back then, even if there was a little push-back, I might not have known it at the time, but for some reason, we still made it to the top of the country charts. One thing that I feel pretty blessed about is, when I did do it, it wasn't in a sense of me trying to force myself into country music, but one that – I was a Tim McGraw fan. I just wanted to do a record with him."

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Nelly isn't the only artist defending "Old Town Road" and its inclusion in country radio. After Billy Ray Cyrus did a remix of the song with Lil Nas X, both Keith Urban and Lindsay Ell defended the song and its place in country music.

Photo Credit: Getty / Timothy Hiatt

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