“To the man that waited on me at Starbucks, I hope you understand … When I put on that T-shirt the only thing I meant to say is… ‘I’m a Skynyrd fan’”
So begins “Accidental Racist”, Brad Paisley’s musical team-up with LL Cool J that’s the target of heated internet backlash. Inspired by a coffeehouse employee who didn’t like his Confederate flag shirt, Brad says the lyrics are meant to open a discussion about race, intolerance, and how to show Southern pride without being offensive. Online critics, however, have been far from kind.
USA Today notes that several bloggers have crowned “Accidental Racist” the new “worst song ever”. Slate.com’s review says Brad’s “Good intentions aren’t good enough”, and his 6 minute collaboration makes points that are “stunningly wrongheaded” and “incredibly superficial”. Among the most savagely opposed is Fuse.TV, which says of Brad’s “jaw-dropping track”: “This unexpected country meets rap jam is as terrible as you’d expect” and yet “far stupider”.
As for me, I appreciate the concept, but I don’t think “Accidental Racist” succeeds. Ideally the song would find mutual understanding and blame for the racial divide. But whereas Brad is very apologetic of (and disconnected from) Southern history for his part, LL Cool J continues to throw slavery in his face, growling his lines like “The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’”, and “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the iron chains”. It doesn’t help that those are also fairly awkward lyrics.
Brad is usually more subtle with his messages, and he is able to make a point with humor. I think either approach would have worked better here. However, Brad told Entertainment Weekly he wanted to get a conversation started…and he’s certainly done that (but perhaps NOT the conversation he had in mind).
What may upset Brad’s Southern fans the most is LL Cool J’s bitter line, “RIP Robert E Lee”. Wow! Well, we’ll have to see what happens as Brad hits the road this summer.
Though the new web video version has already been pulled, Listen to the song below in a YouTube video – this one hasn’t been pulled as of the time of this update; “Accidental Racist” is available on iTunes or on Brad’s CD “Wheelhouse”.
What do you think of the song? Leave your comments below.