BTS’ RM went a little bit country late Wednesday night with “Seoul Town Road,” his surprise collaboration with Lil Nas X. Unlike Billy Ray Cyrus – who is featured on the latter’s chart-topping “Old Town Road” remix – the Korean rapper hasn’t dabbled in country music previously. Not the American genre, anyhow.
Fans were confused when the song began to trend minutes after it hit the Internet. Many people wondered if this was real or a hoax. Lil Nas confirmed the latest version of his song by tweeting out, “seoul town road joining the 79 other old town road remixes,” referencing the previous incarnations that featured not only Cyrus, but artists such as Diplo, Young Thug and child yodeler Mason Ramsey. And BTS’ official Twitter account made things perfectly clear with its own tweet, “Seoul Town Road with my Ho-Mi @LilNasX.” The tweet was accompanied by a seemingly unrelated photo of two garden hoes topped with hand-drawn brown cowboy hats.
Korean speakers recognized the bilingual wordplay of “homi” quickly and offered translations for international fans, many of whom assumed RM was singing about “homies.” Homi is the Korean homophone for homie and refers not to a close friend, but a common gardening tool. RM, who had taught himself to speak English by watching episodes of “Friends,” was having as much fun with his self-penned lyrics as he was at tackling an American-sounding cowboy twang.
RM kicks the song off, tweaking the original lyrics a bit to reference “Seoul Town Road” in the third line. Just as each version had a slightly different take, RM’s tongue-in-cheek English lyrics tease the listener on how much Korean vocabulary they don’t know: “I got the homis in my bag / Have you heard of that? / Homis made of steel from Korea / They the best / Riding to the farm / Grabbing all the corn / We gonna get your money with my homi in your backyard.”
Even the pop culture team at the Korea Herald, South Korea’s largest English-language daily newspaper, jumped in to help foreigners understand what a homi was by linking to articles that declared the Korean hand hoe as the “it” gardening tool.
Clocking in at just under two minutes, the remix not only pays homage to the South Korean capital of Seoul, but also to BTS’ fans, known as ARMY. The accompanying artwork for “Seoul Town Road” features two horses: one black and the other purple, a color associated with BTS’ love for their fans.
“Old Town Road” currently has had the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the past 16 weeks, tying the records previously set by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (“Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber) and Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men (“One Sweet Day”).
Although Lil Nas X may not have even needed the help, “Seoul Town Road” makes it pretty much a given that “Old Town” will slide into that 17th week at a record-busting No. 1.
Indeed, it appears Lil Nas X has found a good homie in RM.