Country-rap hit Old Town Road tops US charts, sparks race debate

NEW YORK A viral single fusing elements of US southern rap and country has skyrocketed in popularity to top the US charts, dethroning pop princess Ariana Grande and stoking controversy on the way.

The smash hit Old Town Road by the previously unknown artist Lil Nas X was streamed more than 46 million times the week ending April 4, industry tracker Billboard said on Monday.

The brief but catchy hybrid song initially emerged on both the country and rap charts last month.

Billboard then scrapped it from the country list, saying it was not in line with the genre's sound.

Its removal inflamed social media debate over race and genre, with many decrying white-washing in the country music industry.

Atlanta native Lil Nas X, 20, told Time magazine that "the song is country trap" and should be on both charts. - AFP