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Trent Reznor Discusses the Use of a Nine Inch Nails Sample in Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”

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Many of us probably did not realize that Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor has a songwriting credit on “Old Town Road,” the record-breaking megahit from Lil Nas X. But he does! The PRP reports that “the aforementioned rapper and his producer YoungKio having used a banjo sample of the Nine Inch Nails track ’34 Ghosts IV’ on it,” thus entitled Reznor to his credit (and, presumably, some money).

Reznor has been quite about his very indirect involvement with the track… until now. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the NIN frontman reveals how the whole thing came about:

“’The way it was presented to me originally is I got a call from my management saying, ‘We got a call from a panicked manager saying they had used the sample of something off Ghosts,’ Reznor recalls. ‘They should have cleared it, but it didn’t get cleared. It’s picking up some steam on the viral Spotify charts. What do you think about that?’ And I said, ‘Look, I’m fine with it. I get how stuff goes. They’re not saying they didn’t sample it. Just work it out, but don’t be a roadblock to this.’ I hadn’t heard it yet. Then a few weeks later, I was like, ‘Holy shit.’

“Reznor calls ‘Old Town Road’ ‘undeniably hooky,’ but once it exploded, he took a back seat to the phenomenon. ‘The reason I haven’t stepped in to comment anything about it is, I don’t feel it’s my place to play any kind of social critic to that,’ he says. ‘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…. They asked if I wanted to do a cameo in the video, and it was flattering, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t feel like it’s my place to shine a light on me for that. I say that with complete respect.’

You can read the entire interview here.

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