Country music star Brad Paisley has teamed up with LL Cool J on a song about racism, the lyrics of which have ignited controversy.
The song, called “Accidental Racist,” was released on Monday in advance of Paisley’s new album, “Wheelhouse.” Using several controversial lyrics, Paisley and LL Cool J discussed lingering racial tensions and the shared history of Southerners and African-Americans.
In the music video for the song, Paisley wears a shirt emblazoned with a Confederate flag and attempts to address the American South’s long-standing issues with racism through the song's lyrics. The video has since been removed from YouTube.
"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 rewrite history," Paisley sings. "Our generation didn’t start this nation / We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday."
Paisley’s crooning is matched by a verse by LL Cool J, who raps “I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood / I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could / Feel like a newfangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods / So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good.”
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While Paisley’s "Accidental Racist" was meant to address the issue of lingering racism in America, fans have questioned both the content and the motives behind the message. While Paisley knew that the song would be controversial, he told ABC News that it is “not a stunt.”
“It really came to a boil last year with ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Django,’ and there’s just a lot of talk about it,” Paisley told ABC News. “I just think art has a responsibility to lead the way, and I don’t know the answers, but I feel like asking the question is the first step, and we’re asking the question in a big way.”
You can listen to “Accidental Racist" below, or read the lyrics here.