Elite 100: Nav Spikes To No. 7; Lil Nas X Rides On ‘Old Town Road’

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– Nav
NAV performs during the 2019 Juno Awards at Budweiser Gardens on March 17, 2019 in London, Canada.

The biggest new name on the Elite 100 Artists chart this week is Canadian rapper Nav, who dropped a full album for major streaming success in the week ending March 28.

Nav dropped Bad Habits March 26 and shot to No. 7 on the chart, mostly on the back of 96.8 million on-demand streams. Nav also sold 10,800 songs and 2,200 albums for a total of 71,500 album units.

Nav can already fill theaters and clubs as he grossed $39,250 on 1,370 tickets at Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore., and $30,000 on 1,200 tickets at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. last year. Both of those shows were reported as  sold out. He also opened for The Weeknd in 2017.

Mötley Crüe came onto the chart at No. 20 with a total of 48,300 total album units, after the release of the soundtrack for the Netflix docu-drama “The Dirt” March 22.

The new album includes new songs and Mötley Crüe classics, and the band’s strongest metric was song sales, with 59,000 on the week, the chart leader in that category, edging out Queen, which had 57,500.

Mötley Crüe retired in 2015, wrapping up with a major payday with a three-night stand at Staples Center in Los Angeles, grossing $2.76 million on 37,090 tickets.

Another new entry this week is Lil Nas X, who entered the chart at No. 80 with 21,600 total album units. He didn’t sell a single album, but he did sell 13,500 songs and logged 21 million on-demand streams.

Lil Nas X was the subject of some discussion, as his single “Old Town Road,” was removed from Billboard’s country music charts, telling Rolling Stone: “Upon further review, it was determined that ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X does not currently merit inclusion on Billboard’s country charts. When determining genres, a few factors are examined, but first and foremost is musical composition. While ‘Old Town Road’ incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”

“Old Town Road” got some love from Justin Bieber and thrust Lil Nas X firmly into the spotlight. The song features trap-style drums and incorporates hip-hop influences in a way not usually seen in country music.

In a 2017 interview with Pollstar, Rench of the bluegrass/hip-hop crossover band Gangstagrass said there is a strong history of racism in country music that the industry has yet to fully confront. An extended portion of that interview is pasted at the bottom of this interview.

Next week’s chart will include data for new releases from Billie Eilish, George Strait, Boosie Badazz, Ty Segall, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Jake Owen, Saweetie, L.A. Guns, Ben Platt, DJ Muggs & Mach-Hommy, Rita Wilson, MED & Guilty Simpson, Whitechapel, Eli Young Band, Yelawolf and a posthumous release from Marvin Gaye.

Also, be on the lookout for new projects from Khalid, Reba McEntire, Sara Bareilles, Brooks & Dunn, Idlewild, Jai Wolf, Amanda Cook, Don Felder, Priests, and PUP.

Rench, of Gangstagrass on racism in the music industry:

“With recorded music, it’s been coded racially ever since the first days of recording and promoting music.

“Something was considered a race record or a mainstream record and they would not cross those lines. That stuff has a legacy that we are still slowly getting away from, but that has persisted through most of the last century.

“One example I can tell you is the early career of Solomon Burke, who is now known as a soul singer, but whose early stuff was very country inflected because he was coming out of Southern church music, so his early stuff sounded like country gospel music.

“The records would go out to promoters, shows would get booked with them thinking he was a white country musician, and then he would show up in person and they say, “Oh no, we can’t put you in front of this audience.” A lot of shows would get canceled and there was one promoter who actually made him play with his face and hands bandaged up and told the crowd he was in some horrible accident.

“There’s a long history of radio stations that would not play things based on race of the performer, of the audience. That’s been going on for a long time.

“What you have is this lingering sense of black music and white music that you see on the surface because it’s all presented separately. Separate radio stations, separate TV stations, separate charts, separate magazines. But the truth is all those artists are influenced by each other and there’s a huge overlap of fans out there.

“Country and hip hop being the two most popular forms of American music right now, they’re gonna intermingle, the fans and the musicians are gonna start putting them together, but the industry has always worked by defining the market separately.”