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

(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.

This Nov. 1, 2012, file photo shows Brad Paisley hosting the 46th Annual Country Music Awards.   (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP, file)
LL Cool J performs in this file photo.   (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Invision for Doritos/AP Images)
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