LL Cool J wasn’t surprised by the public furor over “Accidental Racist,” his controversial new collaboration with Brad Paisley. In fact, he’s “pleased that the dialogue is happening,” he told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.
The song, from Paisley’s new album Wheelhouse, is a country-hip-hop mashup that in which a Lynyrd Skynyrd-loving white guy and a baggy-jeans-wearing black guy seek to explain their perspectives to each other. It’s a dialogue that’s necessary in our society, said LL Cool J, who had previously called the song a “bold statement.”
“The intention was to put something out there that causes people to have a conversation,” the MC said. “The fact that we’re having so many conversations about this song is proof that the song did its job. People are talking about it.”
Paisley and LL Cool J each mention clothing in the song, with the rapper promising, “If you don’t judge my do-rag / I won’t judge your red flag,” a reference to the Confederate battle standard. LL said that lyric has been widely misunderstood as an attempt to minimize racism and the lingering legacy of slavery.
“When you think about a kid like Trayvon Martin, and you think about some of the things that happen in society based on clothing, when you put it in the proper context, it makes sense,” he said. “I would never, ever, ever suggest to anyone that we should just forget slavery and act like that didn’t happen, I understand the systemic racism that exists, I get that. But you know what, if the playing field is unlevel and you feel it’s unfair, then maybe putting down some of that baggage will help you make it up that hill a little easier.”
Paisley visited The Tonight Show Wednesday and said the song is “not perfect, but it is honest, and it comes from a good place.” LL echoed that sentiment last night.
“You can’t fit 300, 400 years of history into a three- or four-minute song,” LL said. He later added, “If a guy like Brad Paisley and LL Cool J can come together and have a conversation, then that can happen in D.C.,” he said. “That can happen in other parts of the world.”