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Shaboozey on Reaching His Tipping Point With ‘A Bar Song (Tipsy),’ Killing It at Stagecoach and Sharing a Spaghetti-Western Sensibility With Beyoncé

One of the buzziest — or should that be tipsiest? — performances at this past weekend’s Stagecoach came from an artist who wasn’t even listed on the poster art. Late-breaking sensation Shaboozey was squeezed into the festival as a performer in the Bud Light Backyard tent, where there was other squeezing going on as Sunday’s festivalgoers stood in line to get a glimpse of the artist whose “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” has proven to be a straight-out-of-the-box smash among both country and hip-hop fans.

Shaboozey isn’t coming to stardom himself in any kind of overnight way; the 28-year-old, Virginia-born singer-rapper put out his first single 10 years ago, and he’s about to release his third major-label album. But his career has gotten a major accelerant, to say the least, this year. First, of the many young Black artists getting guest spots on Beyoncé‘s “Cowboy Carter” album, he was the only one to get two features, which pretty much counts as the co-sign of the year. And then “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” came out strong in its Hot 100 debut, with a position at least in the top 10 inevitable — plus, it landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart shortly after Stagecoach, replacing Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em,” in a true signpost moment

“It’s good to finally be here, you know?” said Shaboozey, relaxing after his performance at Stagecoach. By “here,” he didn’t mean at the festival, but in the limelight. “I’ve seen so many people along the journey who have believed in me. A lot of big people have always seen it. So it’s cool for them to be like, ‘I was right about that guy.’”

The line between country and hip-hop has been rapidly fading, but Shaboozey really obliterates it. Is the country audience at large really ready for it?

“I think they’re here,” he says. “I mean, that (audience in the Bud Light tent) was all I needed to kind of see. But yeah, man, I think they’re excited for whatever I got coming. Country doesn’t have a lot of the energy of, like, a Travis Scott show, or some of the big hip-hop acts that go in just raging. So it’s cool to bring those worlds together and see people really just having a great time — it’s super awesome.”

Singer Shaboozey performs onstage during Day 3 of the Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 28, 2024 in Indio, California.Getty Images for Stagecoach

It remains to be seen whether country radio will embrace Shaboozey, as his Hot Country Songs No. 1 is based almost entirely on streaming and sales strength — but “A Bar Song (Tipsy) won’t need that format’s airplay to become a bona fine hit. It already is, based on it having debuted on the Hot 100 at No. 36 and moving up to No. 27 in week 2. An important bit of contextualizing there: Taylor Swift commanded most of the top spots on the Hot 100 this week, so if she hadn’t just put an album out, “Bar Song” would be top 10 already; there are only five non-Swift songs ahead of Shaboozey on the chart.


The country currents in Shaboozey’s music count more as undertones than it being obviously tied to the genre, so is it possible that some of the hip-hop and pop fans who would enjoy it might be put off by the country label getting slapped on it, however progressive that might be? He hasn’t seen any cause to worry about that, he says.

“I think it’s realy exciting to those guys. Everyone’s hitting me up on that side,” Shaboozey says. “Today Lil Yachty hit me up and said ‘Let’s work on something,’ and all these people that are in that space doing their thing are really resonating with it. I ran into Tyga and Tyga was like, ‘Man, I’ve been listening to that song the whole way here.’ Machine Gun Kelly, the same thing; he said he was in a sauna listening to the record. So, I actually think it’s a perfect blend.”

About his experience specifically with the country crowd at Stagecoach (not to mention the celebrity crowd backstage), Shaboozey said, “It’s been a wild weekend. I’m having one of the best days of my life for sure — best weekends of my life.” He didn’t have to personally show up on stage to see the love the song is getting. Speaking about the 2014 oldie that is interpolated in “A Bar Song,” he mentioned, “Even yesterday, Diplo played the regular ‘Tipsy’ version [during a DJ set at Stagecoach] and everyone screamed when J-Kwon’s version came on. It was crazy. It was nuts.”

Shaboozey did make other appearances besides his Bud Light Backyard perforance, during a Chainsmokers set in Diplo’s tent. “It wasn’t even supposed to happen. With the Chainsmokers, I was actually in the bathroom of the backstage, in the trailers, and I heard the song playing and I was like, ‘Yo, Wait, that’s my song.’ I ran over, and I just wanted to show ‘em love and be like ‘yo, what’s up,’ and they were so surprised. It was super organic and a super genuine reaction I got from them. It was cool to just meet them like that.” And then, appearing during Diplo’s after-hours set was “insane. He’s such an artist and dreamer and a visionary when it comes to his sets, so to be able to have Diplo down there and I’m kind up here in this weird shipwreck theme, Jurassic Park world, to just stand up there and look down… It was definitely a Stagecoach to remember. Especially with the year that I feel like we’re all having, it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

(L-R) Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers, Shaboozey and Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers perform at the Diplo’s Honky Tonk during the 2024 Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 27, 2024 in Indio, California.Getty Images for Stagecoach

Shaboozey gives due credit to J-Kwon for the original “Tipsy” track and its part in his song’s success. “I was hearing that it was resurgent and ‘Tipsy’ was trending, the original before I even put the song out. So it was a perfect storm. Everyone’s discovering old music and so it’s cool that people are digging into those crates as well. And a lot of country artists’ biggest songs are covers, so to be able to interpolate a song like that, it makes sense, you know? Like Chris Stapleton’s ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ and Morgan Wallen’s ‘Cover Me Up’ as well, or even Whitney Houston covering Dolly Parton, so that’s a longstanding tradition.”


Asking about the Beyoncé album is always fraught with peril for any of the participants, given the legendary nature of her NDAs, and when Shaboozey fields a question about it, he jokes, “My manager is staring at me like, ‘What’s he gonna say?’” But there is plenty to say without revealing every collab detail. “For the past couple years, my mission has been the same with hers, bringing people to this space and using my voice to just show people that we’re here as well,” he says. “I’m super artistic and super intentional with the imagery and the way I tell my stories, and Beyoncé is the same way, so I think we connected on that part — we had the same vision, the same creative kind of mind, hopefully. I heard that when I was listening to the record — the interludes, the Western saloon sounds, the radio shows. What I would want my project to sound like was what she was doing., so it kind of connected. As soon as I heard the music on the songs I recorded, I put my parts down, and she didn’t change really any of it, so it’s cool for us to be on the same wavelength when it comes to like the music. Because there’s so many different pockets of country music — you have the Western outlaw, you have Megan Moroney’s pop country,” he noted, as Maroney performed on the main stage in the background. “So for her to be dialed more into like the spaghetti Western thing was really cool to see, because that’s the stuff that I think is badass, you know?”

Indeed, one of the two “Cowboy Carter” tracks that Shaboozey appears on is called “Spaghettii,” and the Western part of old-school country-and-Western is a recurring emphasis on his May 31 album for Empire, “Where I’ve Been, Isn’t Where I’m Going.”

“Even on my last project before that [2022’s “Cowboys Live Forever, Outlaws Never Die”], it’s super apparent that I’m really inspired by that stuff. I love old Western films. I love reading about the old outlaws and getting the dime pulp magazines and the pulp romance cowboy novels. So that part was a really a big inspirational influence for the direction I went with the music. And then seeing how it connected back to a lot of the imagery and interest in today’s modern music, it’s almost the same, you know? So I love like connecting the bridge and showing people like, these are the same concepts in hip-hop and country-Western music, especially Waylon Jennings and Marty Robbins and things like that.” He also cites artists from Buck Owens to Woody Guthrie as influences.

Shaboozey was meeting new faces and getting reacquainted with some old ones backstage at Stagecoach. “Man, Lana Del Rey, she was like, ‘I’ve been hearing about you all week,’ so that was awesome. I met Morgan (Wallen), Lukas Nelson… It’s cool because a lot of these people know that I’ve been in Nashville for a long time. I go to the Honky Talk, I go to Sam’s, I go to the Underdog, I go to all these places to watch people play, and so people have seen me in that space for years and years. So I think everyone’s just happy that I’m a familiar face, so they’re excited.”

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