Country singer Brad Paisley explained to Entertainment Weekly that his new "Accidental Racist" song illustrated the difficulties of displaying his "Southern pride."
"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. How do I show my Southern pride? What is offensive to you?" Paisley said.
The country star performed the song with rapper LL Cool J to let "bygones be bygones" in regards to the South's history of brutal racism, he explained. Paisley said he was "with my audience 100 percent in the Southern pride thing," which he equated to LL Cool J's devotion to the New York Yankees. He described the song as an attempt to "reconcile" white and black Americans.
In the song, Paisley laments that his Confederate flag t-shirt is only intended to show he is a "Skynyrd fan" and that the nation is still "fightin' over yesterday." He says he feels "caught between southern pride and southern blame."
About halfway through the song, LL Cool J shares what the "world is really like when you're livin' in the hood." In the duet that concludes the song, he offers to disregard Southern racism, saying "If you don't judge my do-rag, I won't judge your red flag" and adding, "If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains."
A mixture of mockery and condemnation greeted the online release of the song, which will appear on Paisley’s new album Wheelhouse.
The Hairpin described it as "a lyrical disgrace filled with awkward non-apologies and faux-pensiveness over the history of racism in the south." The Huffington Post said the song "will probably make you cringe" and Salon called it "bizarre." Gawker added, "Brad, I don't think you're the one paying for the 'mistake' of buying and selling human beings, really."
Listen to the song, uploaded to YouTube, below: