You’d think the collaboration between a country star like Brad Paisley and a rapper like LL Cool J would have everyone applauding such a genre mash-up. Instead, the song, “Accidental Racist,” has people up in arms.
Thankfully, Paisley paid a visit to “Ellen,” where he was able to clear the air.
But first, let’s rewind for a sec. In the nearly six-minute track, the two create a dialogue about race relations in America. Paisley, 40, describes being a white man in the South as “walking on eggshells” and details an experience at a coffee shop while wearing a Confederate flag on his shirt. “[I’m] just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms/Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn,” he sings.
LL Cool J, 45, responds, “If you don’t judge my do-rag … I won’t judge your red flag … If you don’t judge my gold chains … I’ll forget the iron chains.”
“I don’t know if any of you noticed but there is some racial tension here and there,” Paisley explained to Ellen DeGeneres. “[The song] kind of deals with that and I felt like, when we were writing this song, it wasn’t necessarily up to the media. I don’t really trust … Hollywood, sorry … or talk radio or anything like that anymore. I think it’s music’s turn to have the conversation.
“We’re sort of asking the question as a proud Southerner and he is a black New Yorker,” the crooner continued. “One of my favorite lines in the song, he says, ‘I think the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixing.’ Leave it to a rapper to put it so simply and so beautifully.”
Paisley also emphasized that the “NCIS: Los Angeles” star is one of his best friends. And, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly regarding the controversial track – which is on his new album, Wheelhouse, out Tuesday – he insists, “This isn’t a stunt.”
LL Cool J seconds that sentiment. “Art is about making bridges and it’s about doing something that’s new and something that is provocative and interesting and complex and just means something,” he told “omg! Insider” host Kevin Frazier at the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night. “For me, working with Brad Paisley wasn’t a tactic, it was an organic artful move that I made.”
However, they’re hoping the song starts a conversation, no matter the consequences.
“Art has a responsibility to lead the way,” Paisley told EW, “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.”
To DeGeneres, he concluded, “Make your own mind up. That’s fine, you can throw things at me.”