LL Cool J and Paisley ‘Accidental Racist’ song stirs up controversy

Brad Paisley's collaboration with LL Cool J on Accidental Racist has accidentally kicked up some controversy.

Paisley's publicist says he isn't giving interviews about the song. But the country star known for the white cowboy hat and virtuoso guitar work briefly addressed the debate on Monday night on Twitter when he reposted a radio host's blog entry on the song he felt was thought-provoking.

"Cool," Paisley wrote. "It's fun to get ya'll's take on this. Bring it."

The song appears on Paisley's new self-produced album Wheelhouse. It's his most ambitious album so far and the progressive message of Accidental Racist is in line with opinions the 40-year-old West Virginia-born singer has expressed before in interviews and songs.

Of the album, Paisley wrote, "I hope it triggers emotions," and says he wouldn't change a thing about it: "This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll."

At its heart, Accidental Racist is about how cultural symbols favoured by whites and blacks – the fashion choice of wearing Confederate flags or baggy pants, for instance – come loaded with meaning.

It's not a new discussion. Though race relations have evolved over the decades, cultural symbols continue to colour perceptions.

Paisley uses the Confederate flag as an example in the song, noting whites are "caught between Southern pride and Southern blame" 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

"I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin," Paisley sings, "but it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin/Because I'm a white man livin' in the southland/Just like you I'm more than what it seems/I'm proud of where I'm from/But not everything we've done/It ain't like you and me can rewrite history/Our generation didn't start this nation/We're still paying for mistakes that a bunch of folks made long before we came."

LL Cool J's publicist did not immediately respond to messages. The 45-year-old, who elevated himself from a teen rap sensation on the streets of Queens to an American cultural icon as an actor and personality, provides the response to Paisley's meditations.


He kicks off his portion of the song: Dear, "Mr White Man, I wish you understood what the world was really like living in the hood. Later in the song he raps, I guess we're both guilty of judging 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."

Later he and Paisley enter a call and response portion of the song where LL Cool J raps in part: "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/Can't rewrite history, baby / let bygones be bygones/ Rest in peace, Robert E Lee, I got to thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me." – Sapa-AP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Ap
Guest Author
Advertising

‘Tenderpreneurs’ block the delivery of protective equipment to schools

Protests by local suppliers have delayed PPE delivery, which according to the DBE, is one of the reasons the reopening of schools has been pushed back until June 8

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing
Advertising

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday