Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X receive CMA Awards Musical Event of the Year for Old Town Road in 2019

Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X receive CMA Awards Musical Event of the Year for Old Town Road in 2019 (Photo by Derrek Kupish on Shutterstock)

Country and rap are two genres that don’t often mix, but when they do some of the most fun and raucous summertime party hits can be found. This uncommon mashup of musical styles goes all the way back to the 1980s with performers like Bellamy Brothers and Sir Mix-A-Lot. Since then, there have been several unlikely hits in this niche genre. We turned to our sources to find the top five best country rap songs of all time.

Rap is a style of music that is often maligned by many parents and critics that warn against allowing children to listen to rap and hip-hop songs over references to violence and other vulgar themes. But a new study finds that much of the pop music that moms and dads often pay far less mind to may actually not be much better lyrically. Country music is also filled with grim narrative songs and murder ballads like the famous Johnny Cash tune, “Folsom Prison Blues” or Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger.” Surprisingly when rap and country meet, they typically eschew the violent overtones found in both genres in favor of more chill vibes.

Hip-hop aficionados have spoken, and their favorite artists aren’t always ones who are signed to a major label or the ones rapping about vulgar, antisocial themes, a new study finds. In fact, it was positive, “pro-social” songs that found to be heavily favored, the study concluded. So when rap country songs focus on a good time, fans line up to listen.

Overall, the researchers found that the Facebook users examined were more attracted to tunes with “pro-social” lyrics — ones that endorsed positive actions, such as feeling grateful, engaging in spiritual practices, valuing education, and supporting community building — over less positive songs.

Now that we’ve explored the ins and outs of both genres, our list of the top five best country rap songs has some well-loved classic tracks. Did we miss any? Let us know your favorite tunes in the comments below!

Brian Kelley, (L) and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line perform in New York 2019
Brian Kelley, (L) and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line perform in New York 2019 (Photo by Debby Wong on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Country Rap Songs, According to Fans

1. “Cowboy” (1999)

Kid Rock produced several billboard radio hits in the 2000s that kicked off with his 1999 single “Cowboy” that helped to give him major mainstream exposure. “Kid Rock has made his connection to country plenty explicit over the last decade, presenting himself as an artist in the blue-collar, Rust Belt tradition of Bob Seger. Officially, Rock’s country association started with ‘Picture,’ his charting duet with Sheryl Crow. Years before, he’d released the mainstream rap-(roots) rock single ‘Cowboy,’ pairing quasi-outlaw imagery with a twangy guitar figure and crunchy, country-fried chording.” praises RYM

Several sources incorrectly cite “Cowboy” as the first country rap song, but there are several examples that predate it like Bellamy Brother’s single “Country Rap” (1986) or “Wild Wild West” (1987) by Kool Moe Dee. Despite this, “Cowboy” was certainly one of the first major hits of the subgenre. ‘“Cowboy’ from 1999 gets credit as [one of] the first country rap song[s]. Kid Rock blended rock, country, and rap in this track about becoming a pimp in California. The bluesy piano and harmonica give it a distinctly country-music sound,” offers Hello Music Theory.

‘“Cowboy’ is one of the first country rap songs released in 1999. The famous artist Kid Rock blend[s] the genres and created this masterpiece. However, the song received mixed reviews, but it also topped several charts,” claims Siachen Studios.

2. “Cruise” Ft. Nelly (2013)

Florida Georgia Line and Nelly collaborated for this summertime hit song. “Massive, genre-bending hits like Sam Hunt’s ‘Body Like a Back Road’ and Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ might never have been possible without ‘Cruise,’ Florida Georgia Line’s debut single and record-shattering breakout hit from 2012. By itself, the song near-singlehandedly created the ‘bro-country’ movement; the introduction of a remix featuring Nelly brought it squarely to the forefront of the country rap canon and raised the subgenre’s profile around the world,” details Taste of Country.

‘“Cruise’ by Florida Georgia line is one of the most notable of these country rap songs. It was awarded the Billboard music award for the top country song of 2014. It’s twangy tunes and memorable rap section is sure to make its way down in history,” explains Rap TV.

‘“Cruise’ is the first single from Florida Georgia Line’s EP ‘It’z Just What We Do’ in 2012. Group members Brian Kelly, Chase Rice, Jesse Rice (No relation), and Tyler Hubbard with Joey Moi wrote the song,” claims CTD Country Thang Daily.

3. “Old Town Road – Remix” Ft. Billy Ray Cyrus (2018)

“Old Town Road” is a track that upset some country music gatekeepers, but this song became a smash hit on the charts with the addition of Billy Ray Cyrus in the famous remix. ‘“Old Town Road’ is one of the hit songs that broke the longest consecutive #1 position record staying 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It depicts the cowboy riding his horse,” states Siachen Studios.

“Lil Nas X dropped school and decided to pursue his dream in 2018… ‘Old Town Road’ is a song by American rapper Lil Nas X and was first released independently on December 3, 2018. After gaining popularity, Lil Nas X recorded a remix with American country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, which blew up in March,” offers DVD Fab.

“‘Old Town Road – Remix’ became a cultural phenomenon, transcending genre boundaries and solidifying itself as an iconic country rap song. Lil Nas X’s infectious melodies, Billy Ray Cyrus‘s captivating vocals, and the fusion of hip-hop and country elements make this track a groundbreaking hit. Its catchy hooks, relatable lyrics, and trailblazing success have made it a trailblazer for the country rap genre,” adds iSpy Tunes.

4. “Over and Over” (2004)

This melancholy track captures the essence of both rap and country ballads. “A dreamy sad-boy duet between the hip-hop melody-maker Nelly and Tim McGraw, one of country music’s premier gentlemen, ‘Over and Over’ became a phenomenon, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100,” writes The New York Times.

“Up until ‘Old Town Road,’ this top 10 hit was the song that many mainstream listeners associated with the country-rap phenomenon. Bringing Nelly and Tim McGraw together, the song was lampooned at the time of its release, yet stands up as a solid single more than a decade later,” claims USA Today.

“Nelly is not technically a country rapper but rather an honarable [sic] mention due to his contribution towards solidifying the genre into the mainstream. He has paved ways for a lot of the singing rappers of today. His list of career achievements is long. But one of the most notable things he did is to sing ‘Over and Over’ with Tim McGraw; a song which was a hit on hip hop and country charts alike,” writes RYM.

5. “The Git Up” (2019)

This viral song of the pandemic era is a pure feel-good track. “Released as Blanco Brown’s debut single, ‘The Git Up’ got described as the ‘next viral country rap song’ or the ‘sequel’ to Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road.’ It debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at No. 66 and peaked at 14,” according to CTD Country Thang Daily.

“Blanco Brown’s debut single from 2019 was the first example most fans of his signature ‘trailer trap’ style, with a snap track, hip hop elements, viral appeal and plenty of twang. The song, which came along with its very own line dance, was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart,” says Taste of Country.

“Being not only a singer, Blanco Brown is also a songwriter and a producer, who has been working in Atlanta for years. When released in May, ‘The Git Up’ promptly started its own viral dance craze and has since racked up 42 million streams on Spotify currently reaching number one on Hot Country Songs chart on its fifth week on the chart,” details DVD Fab.

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