NEW YORK (Reuters) - Country singer Brad Paisley on Tuesday defended his new duet with rapper LL Cool J, which has been criticized for its commentary on U.S. race relations.
“Accidental Racist” is a track from Paisley’s ninth album, “Wheelhouse,” which was released on Tuesday. The song describes a hypothetical encounter between a Confederate flag-wearing white Southern man and an urban African-American man in a coffee shop. Some critics have disparaged the song’s content and artistry.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Paisley, one of country music’s most popular artists, wrote on Twitter. “This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya‘ll.”
In “Accidental Racist,” Paisley sings: “Our generation didn’t start this nation, and we’re still picking up the pieces, walking on eggshells, fighting over yesterday,” referring to post-Civil War race relations. “Caught between Southern pride and Southern blame.”
LL Cool J, 45, responds with a rap that includes lyrics such as: “Just because my pants are sagging doesn’t mean I‘m up to no good. You should try to get to know me,” and “I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air, but I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here.”
Paisley has said he wanted the song to get people talking.
Several critics have panned it for what they described as a soft, apologetic treatment of lingering racial tension in the United States.
Industry website Billboard.com called “Accidental Racist” a “flat-footed apology for hate-induced uneasiness.” The Atlantic magazine said the “assumption that there is no real difference among black people is exactly what racism is.”
“Wheelhouse” is expected to land Paisley near the top of the U.S. album charts next week.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Stacey Joyce