Paisley Defends 'Accidental Racist'
But critics are piling on his duet with LL Cool J about racism
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2013 3:36 PM CDT
This Nov. 1, 2012, file photo shows Brad Paisley hosting the 46th Annual Country Music Awards.   (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, file)

(Newser) – Brad Paisley is taking some serious flak for his "Accidental Racist" release, a duet with LL Cool J about Southern pride and American racism, but he insists via Twitter that he "wouldn't change a thing," notes the Huffington Post. He also went on the Ellen DeGeneres Show today to make his case, reports People. "I don't know if any of you noticed, but there is some racial tension here and there," he said. "I felt like when we were writing this song it wasn't necessarily up to the media … or talk radio or anything like that to deal with that anymore. I think it's music's turn to have the conversation."

  • Sample lyrics: "[I'm] just a proud rebel son with an ol' can of worms/Lookin' like I got a lot to learn." To which LL Cool J replies: "If you don't judge my do-rag … I won't judge your red flag/If you don't judge my gold chains … I'll forget the iron chains."

And a sample of the back and forth:

  • It's racist, writes Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic. For one thing, Paisley picked LL Cool J for this? Lots of rappers (Chuck D, KRS-ONE, etc.) have spent their careers trying to have a conversation about racism, but LL isn't one of them. "The only real reason to call up LL is that he is black and thus must have something insightful to say about the Confederate Flag," writes Coates. "The assumption that there is no real difference among black people is exactly what racism is." Click for the full post.
  • It means well but is awful, writes James Poniewozik at Time. "The major problem of 'Accidental Racist' is also the major problem of a lot of well-intentioned punditry and journalism. To avoid alienating its audience—here, country-music fans—it sets up a string of false equivalencies. If one side has to bear some burden or confess some bad history, an equivalent must be found on the other side, because, well, it’s only fair, even if it’s not actually equivalent." Click for the full post.
  • Not so fast, argues Erik Nelson Salon. "Paisley is doing something different here, and attention must be paid. He is putting his mass popularity on the line addressing and trying to bridge the red/blue divide in acts of brilliant lyrical tightrope walking—and yes, performance art. He has his core audience to lose if he gets it wrong, or is even perceived to be getting it wrong, which must be even scarier." Click for the full post.
  • You could listen for yourself, but the Atlantic Wire notes that the video seems to have been yanked from YouTube.

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Apr 10, 2013 7:35 PM CDT
Ta-Nehisi, are you smokin' crack or something? Now your racist if you don't pick the RIGHT black man to partner up with. You need to get it in check, just reading your comments, tells me your a bigger racist then most people. Personally I think everyone should take a step back and look at some of the racist things going on in this country. Lets start with February, Black History Month. If there was a White History Month it would be considered racism. How about the United Negro College Fund, a fund that can be given to only black students. There are 39 colleges and universities that only allow black students to attend. There are none, zero, that only allow white students. Is this not racism? In it's truest form it is. How about BET. If there was a White Entertainment channel on tv, it would be racism. Lets go big-time! The NBA! The NBA player roster is 78% black, 18% white, and 4% other. If the NBA was 78% white, oh my God, it would probably be considered the biggest racist organization in this country. So I ask you people, black and white the same, why is it ok for blacks to have racist organizations, and for blacks to be racist, but it's not ok for whites. Wow, thats racism in itself!
Apr 10, 2013 2:24 PM CDT
I take my hat off to these guys. They mean well by everyone. RACIST AMERICA HATES LOOKING AT THEMSELVES.
Apr 10, 2013 11:25 AM CDT
I actually listened to this album last night. Not because I'm a Country music fan but because I admire Brad Paisley's guitar playing. The album was good. I was surprised by how much I was enjoying it. Then this song came on and I was dumbstruck. It's one of those things where you feel embarrassed even though you had nothing to do with it. The song may very well be one of the worst songs ever. No exaggeration.