"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," he recently told Rolling Stone. "[I]t feels strange at first. But I thought he did a good job with that."
Many X fans are unaware that "Old Town Road" samples NIN's 2008 instrumental "34 Ghosts IV." Reznor and his frequent collaborator Atticus Ross are credited as songwriters on X's breakout single, which has dominated 2019. The genre-fusing track was independently released late last year and has since become a record-breaking sensation. It's the fastest song to receive a diamond certification, as well as the longest-running No. 1 single in the history of the Hot 100 chart.
Shortly after "Old Town Road" received a CMA nomination, Reznor responded to the honor with an amusing Instagram post. The picture featured his and Ross' faces photoshopped onto the bodies of country duo Brooks & Dunn.
Clearly, Reznor was acknowledging his involvement in "Old Town Road," but he had never publicly addressed the NIN sample until the Rolling Stone interview.
"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 explained. "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.
"Having been listed on the credits of the all-time, Number One whatever-the-fuck-it-is wasn’t something…I didn't see that one coming," Reznor continued. "But the world is full of weird things that happen like that. It’s flattering. But I don’t feel it’s for me to step in there and pat myself on the back for that."