The beat for Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," one of the biggest songs of all time, is built around a sample of "34 Ghosts IV,” a song by industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. While bandleader Trent Reznor is not a curmudgeon by any stretch, he's never been shy about calling out other artists for "borrowing" elements of his work. That fact has made Reznor's silence on "Old Town Road" all the more notable.
On Friday, Rolling Stone finally got Reznor on the record to discuss the song. Happily, he's cool with it, after some initial qualms: “At first, when you hear your stuff turned into something else, it always feels awkward because it’s something that intimately came from you in some way,” Reznor said, linking his reaction to hearing "Old Town Road" to the first time he listened to Johnny Cash's "Hurt," a cover of a Nine Inch Nails Song.
In Reznor's considerable estimation, "Old Town Road" is "undeniably hooky" and its sampling of his music is "very flattering." The reason he didn't chime in sooner, Reznor revealed, is out of respect for Lil Nas X and YoungKio, "Old Town Road"'s producer. "I don’t feel it’s my place to play any kind of social critic to that,” Reznor said. “It was a material that was used in a significant way and it turned into something that became something else, and those guys should be the ones the spotlight is on." He added that he turned down an offer of a cameo in the song's music video.
Read the full interview at Rolling Stone.