About the Song

Released in 2013, “Accidental Racist” is a blend of country and rap music performed and recorded by American country music artist Brad Paisley. In addition, it features the rapping vocals of American hip-hop artist LL Cool J. Aside from producing it for Arista Nashville Records, Paisley co-penned this song with LL Cool J and Lee Thomas Miller. The song was included in Paisley’s ninth studio album, Wheelhouse.

LL Cool J and Brad Paisley |Photo Credits: spin.com

Furthermore, “Accidental Racist” was noted to have sparked some controversy because of its theme. However, it managed to register to the music charts. In fact, it clinched no. 23 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. On the other hand, it peaked at no. 77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, the song was no. 50 on the Billboard Digital Song Sales on April 27, 2013.

Song Meaning and Controversy

Just after its release in 2013, “Accidental Racist” generated arguments and faced some controversy. With its title alone, it has stirred a deal of wrangle. The song’s theme discusses racism, and centers on showing “Southern Pride.” In addition, it also includes the Confederate Flag that was a symbol of the Confederate States of America, which was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. Brad Paisley then clarified and stated that the inspirations of the song came from the films Lincoln and Django Unchained. Furthermore, he noted the importance of the following lyrics:

“We’re still picking up the pieces, walking on eggshells, fighting over yesterday” as well as “Paying for the mistakes that a lot of folks made long before we came.”

He explained the meaning of this line saying:

“We’re all left holding the bag here, left with the burden of these generations. And I think the younger generations are really kind of looking for ways out of this.”

How Music Critics and Fans Reacted to the Song

Despite the arguments and controversy of some sort that the song faced, Billboard correspondent Jason Lipshutz expressed that:

“the song carries good intentions, but Paisley’s latest track fails to become more than a flat-footed apology for hate-induced uneasiness.”

Moreover, he also praised LL Cool J’s performance pointing out the verses he has sung. He stated:

“his proclamations regarding the history of slavery and the solution to racial tension are downright bizarre”, particularly the lyrics “If you don’t judge my gold chains, I’ll forget the iron chains”, saying it was “the most downright offensive line … if LL Cool J’s gold jewelry can be overlooked, so can all of slavery. Maybe… ‘forget’ is the wrong verb to use in this line? Does anyone really want to ‘forget’ the horrors of slavery instead of learn from them?”

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J |Photo Credits: perezhilton.com

Meanwhile, David Graham, a music critic from The Atlantic, also focused on the same issue saying:

“If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag. It’s pretty insane to compare an inoffensive piece of headgear to a flag that represents a treasonous secession movement devoting to maintaining the practice of slavery. It’s even more insane to compare jewelry to, you know, slave shackles. This is exactly how not to write a song about the Confederate flag.”

Lastly, Brandon Soderberg of Spin lambasted the song production. He said:

“It was a plastic-sounding Nashville facsimile fitted with rudimentary nods to hip-hop production—electronic drums tug along the almost six-minute song, while its studio effects-soaked sound vaguely nods to record scratching as well as its message.”

He then concluded:

“It’s hard to get really enraged at Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s country-hop attempt at racial solidarity because their clueless take on race-based message music seemingly meant well.”

However, Soderberg later called it “the most politely toxic thing to drop onto the Internet this year.”

LISTEN: Brad Paisley and LL Cool J express Southern pride in this 2013 song, “Accidental Racist.”

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