Some fans are taking Blake Shelton's latest song as a subtle diss against rapper Lil Nas X. The country legend released "Hell Right" on Thursday, and one line seems to reference Lil Nas X's smash hit "Old Town Road." Shelton now insists that it is not.
"Then the girl from the small town took off the 'Old Town,' put on a little Hank Jr.," Shelton sings in the new track.
"Thank God," adds Trace Adkins, who is featured on the song.
Of course, many took this as a dig at "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X and maybe even Billy Ray Cyrus, who was featured on the remix. In fact, the presumption picked up so much steam that a spokesperson for Shelton even issued a response to reporters from Variety.
"It's absolutely not throwing any kind of shade at Lil Nas X at all," they said. "Blake says this literally has nothing to do with anything at all except how much the song is played. It could have been 'Achy Breaky Heart' or any other (overplayed) song."
While he did not mean the line as an insult, Shelton's spokesperson seemed to confirm that it was an intentional reference. They said that he has been in contact with at least one of the artists, who took it in stride.
"Blake talked to Billy Ray and he thought it was funny," they said.
It is unclear whether Shelton spoke to Lil Nas X about the song, but the rapper addressed the whole story on Twitter on Friday. He retweeted an article about the story, with a headline implying that Shelton "takes a shot at" his work in the new single.
"It don't slap like old town road tho (sic)," Lil Nas X wrote with a discerning emoji. That tweet has since been deleted.
Hopefully Shelton's song will reach the same heights as the one it is referencing. "Old Town Road" recently became the longest-running No.1 song in history, with a 19-week tenure on the Billboard Hot 100. It helps that the song had some contentious publicity, including a short-lived backlash from the usual country music community.0comments
When it first came out, "Old Town Road" landed on the country music charts, where it soared to new heights. However, Billboard removed it from that list after a while, deciding it was more at home with hip hop music. Some were outraged, calling this distinction racially motivated. As a show of support, Cyrus recorded his remix with Lil Nas X, legitimizing his country music credit.
Now, that means that the 21-year-old sensation is up against country heavy-hitters like Shelton, for better or worse.