Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel
Actor/rapper LL Cool J (L) and recording artist Brad Paisley appear backstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival.
Combining country music and hip hop in one song may be offensive all its own, but a new song that does just that is drawing criticism for a much deeper reason. The lyrics of "Accidental Racist," by country singer Brad Paisley and hip hop legend L.L. Cool J, are played as a conversation between a regular ol' white Southern white guy and regular ol' African American guy.
It drops conscious, yet prideful, references to the confederate flag, du-rags and saggy pants, along with Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and slavery. Paisley explains why this song and why now: "I'm doing it because it just feels more relevant than it even did a few years ago. I think that we're going through an adolescence in America when it comes to race.... [The song] is two guys that believe in who they are and where they're from very honestly having a conversation and trying to reconcile." It's worth reading the lyrics yourself and perhaps having a listen.
Where do you stand on the intention and execution of this song? Is it inherently racist to portray a southern white man defending his association with the Confederate flag? Are the sympathetic voices used by both characters a good way to get at the differing world views, or should the white character be presented negatively in the song? If so, would the song be of any interest?
Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer for The New Yorker
Mychal Denzel Smith, freelance writer for The Guardian