Long before he remixed the song with Pitbull, Jerrod Niemann knew "Drink to That All Night" was going to be polarizing. But that was exactly his intention.
"The more and more I live in the history of country music, the more I realize how important it is to be different," the country star tells Rolling Stone. "Willie Nelson wrote a song called 'Write Your Own Songs,' and there’s a version where Waylon Jennings sings the verse: 'Mr. Purified Country, don’t you know what the whole thing’s about?/Is your head up your ass so far that you can’t pull it out?' That just shows you that they were getting flack for messing with the tradition of country music. When you decide to step out on a limb and be different, you are going to get people who don’t want change and they think you’re hurting something that they love so much. But in reality, every artist who’s been successful was out on a limb, daring to be different. I’m not saying I’m on the trajectory of Willie or Waylon, but I feel like it’s my duty to dare to be different."
Releasing the track as the first single from his latest album, High Noon, was a risk that paid off. The country-rocking-dance tune spent two weeks at the top of the country charts. Then, the Kansas native pushed the envelope even farther, aiming for a new chart. He recruited rap icon Pitbull to join him on a new, country-rocking-dance-rap version of the song, and filmed a second video for it in Pitbull's home turf of Miami. (Watch above.)
"Some of the hip-hop guys have these hardcore attitudes or you hear stories about them, but he was just beyond a nice guy," Niemann says of his new friend. "There is something really special about his presence."