Brad Paisley and LL Cool J's 'Accidental Racist': Confederacy, KKK and Awkwardness (Video)
Lyrics such as "'Cause I'm a white man livin' in the southland/Just like you I'm more than what you see" have critics raising their eyebrows at the new duet.
It's looking like "Accidental Racist" is the perfect title for Brad Paisley's new song -- just maybe not in the way he intended.
The country star has just released a duet with rapper/actor LL Cool J, a slow crooning tune that laments how difficult it is to be a white man wearing a confederate flag on his shirt in the south. "To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand," the song begins, "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."
From there, Paisley offers up half-apologies and mea culpas for the Civil War, slavery and the region's history of institutional racism, intoning that he should not have to bear the consequences of the South's brutal past.
"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 re-write history/Our generation didn't start this nation."
Paisley also adds that Reconstruction was difficult on people in the region.
Then, LL comes in to offer his perspective as a black northerner, with some references to poverty and racial profiling.
"Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood," he raps, "What the world is really like when you're livin' in the hood/Just because my pants are saggin' doesn't mean I'm up to no good."
From there, they duet, agreeing to listen to each other with a more open mind.
Racism solved, obviously.
The song has caught flack from around the internet. Gawker called the song "horrible," and shames Paisley for his complaints about reconstruction, writing, ""Gosh, Brad, I don't think you're the one paying for the 'mistake' of buying and selling human beings, really." Meanwhile, The Hairpin calls it "a lyrical disgrace filled with awkward non-apologies and faux-pensiveness over the history of racism in the south."