Brad Paisley Defends New 'Accidental Racist' Track
By Bryan Lynn
Country star Brad Paisley is defending his new Accidental Racist collaboration with rapper LL Cool J and says the reason he recorded the controversial track was to musically address "racial tension" he says exists in parts of the United States.
Appearing on Monday's The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Paisley was asked by to Ellen to explain the track, which was getting heavy news coverage and trending across social media platforms. "I don't know if any of you have noticed, but there's some racial tension...here and there," the singer said.
Paisley, 40, said he "doesn't really trust Hollywood" or talk radio to effectively deal with the racism issue. "I think it's music's turn to have the conversation," he said.
The Accidental Racist track -- off Paisley's new album Wheelhouse due to be released today -- includes the following lines by Paisley to a Starbucks employee, "When I put on that [Confederate flag] 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."
The song also includes these lines by LL Cool J: "If you don't judge my do-rag/I won't judge your red flag;" "I want you to get paid, but be a slave I never could;" "If you don't judge my gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains."
Paisley said he feels the song is effective because it deals with the issue from the perspective of a proud southerner (himself), and a black New Yorker (LL). "One of my favorite lines in the song is when (LL) says, "I think the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin.'" He added to Ellen: "And leave it to a rapper to put it so simply and so beautifully."
Paisley also took to his Twitter account in an attempt to explain the controversial lyrics. "So, as you buy this album, I hope it triggers emotions," he tweeted. "I hope you feel joy, heartache, triumph, surprise; you laugh, cry, nudge someone beside you."
He also tweeted that he doesn't regret including the track on his new record. "I hope the album rocks you, soothes you, raises questions, answers, evokes feelings, all the way through until Officially Alive. 'Cause I wouldn't change a thing. This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll."
When asked to comment on the collaboration, LL Cool J toldParade magazine, Brad's not afraid to express himself. What other country artist, or any artist right now, talks about slavery?"
Paisley explained to the magazine how he first approached LL about the collaboration. "I gave him the CD to keep and he lived with it and then he came and wrote his verse in the studio. I remember the first time that I heard him say, 'I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here.' And thinking, 'That’s the most powerful thing I've ever heard anybody say about that.' And then for him to say, 'You know, look, I won't judge that, if you don’t judge my do-rag.' Just the idea that we aren't answering [questions]. We're just asking them."
"How do you show your Southern pride and not be misunderstood?" Paisley adds, "There were some things I wanted to say from my perspective as a Southerner, like, 'Contrary to what some people may think about Southerners who fly the Rebel flag or wear it, I hate slavery. I hate the fact that it happened. I can't change it, and more than anything, I want to know how we get past it.' It's definitely not by forgetting it, and it's also not by having it rubbed in anybody's nose."