A row has broken out over the decision by Billboard to remove Lil Nas X’s song Old Town Road from its Hot Country Songs chart.
The song hit number 19 on the chart before it was removed.
Billboard told Rolling Stone the song was removed because it “does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current form”.
A remix of the song including Billy Ray Cyrus has since been released.
When news of Lil Nas X’s exclusion from the country music chart surfaced, Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted his support for the young artist.
The country music legend said “only outlaws are outlawed” and passed on advice to the 19-year-old rapper to “take this as a compliment”.
Old Town Road currently sits at number 15 on the cross-genre Billboard Top 100 chart, and had been viewed more than 23 million times on YouTube.
The song rose to prominence after it went viral on the lip-synching app TikTok.
It is not yet known if the reworked version will be eligible for inclusion in Billboard’s country music chart.
In a Time Magazine interview about the controversy, Lil Nas X described the song as “country trap” and said it should be eligible for inclusion on both R&B and country music charts.
The song includes elements of trap music, which grew out of the late 1990s hip-hop scene in the American South.
The decision to exclude the track from the chart – and its absence from radio station playlists – was sharply criticised on social media.
Many people suggested that the decision not to classify the song as country was evidence of racism in the country music scene.
While many people applauded Billy Ray Cyrus for lending his support to the younger artist, a number of social media users questioned why it was necessary for him to intervene.
The controversy also started a conversation about the interaction between musical genres, and many pointed to other examples of country cross-over artist who have been listed on the country music chart.
Twitter-user @Sojourner wrote: “White people infiltrate hip-hop, rap & pop… and black culture all the time. They get awarded for it and called innovators but a black man does it and it’s an issue. Nah. Good for Lil Nas X. He got a country hit.”