A controversial new song from country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J has been causing some reaction online just hours after it was released.
Even though it is a collaboration of “a white man/from the southland” and a “black Yankee,” this latest country tune is getting a cool reception from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
Called “Accidental Racist,” the song has Paisley wearing a shirt adorned with the Confederate flag and claiming that he is “caught between Southern pride and Southern blame.”
The song, which starts off with a series of forlorn guitar rifts, initially seems to be an earnest attempt to address issues like racism, the Confederacy and slavery. But upon closer listen, there actually isn’t much of an apology in the lyrics at all.
It begins with Paisley describing his choice of a Confederate flag shirt as an ode to Lynyrd Skynyrd as opposed to a nod to racism.
The song begins: “To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand.”
Then it goes: “When I put on that T-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan/ The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the South.”
“I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the Southland / Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be / I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done / And it ain’t like you and me can rewrite history,” Paisley sings.
“Our generation didn’t start this nation / We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday.”
At one point during the song, Paisley’s pal LL Cool J offers his two cents, rapping from his point of view as a “do-rag” wearing, “gold chain” donning black man who similarly wants to break past stereotypes, says US Magazine.
“If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag,” he raps on the track as Paisley continues to bemoan the difficult internal struggles of being “proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done.”
Most, including comedians, writers and musicians, used “horrible,” “bizarre” or “racist” to describe the nearly six-minute song, which explores modern-day race relations.
Paisley insists that his heart is in the right place.
“This isn’t a stunt. This isn’t something that I just came up with just to be sort of shocking or anything like that,” he told Entertainment Weekly today. “I knew it would be, but I’m sort of doing it in spite of that, really.”
“I’m with my audience 100 percent in the Southern pride thing, in the same way that a Yankees fan is very proud of where he’s from — that’s LL,” Paisley said. “We’ve got pictures of him in a New York Yankees cap doing his vocal, which is so appropriate.”
He added of his collaborator LL Cool J, “You know, it’s such a complicated issue — I’m reading up on it now, [since] I felt I needed to be well-armed for any discussion – and here he is in a Yankees cap, and you think to yourself, ‘Well, here is the antithesis of what was the problem.'”
New York native LL Cool J has a verse as well, rapping “I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book/I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air/But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here.”
Some joked the entire song was satire, with The Roots drummer Questlove tweeting the song was actually made by Weird Al Yankovich, reports the NY Daily News.
Twitter users panned “Accidental Racist”, calling it inappropriate and a huge mistake for both artists, writes Mashable.