Country star Brad Paisley released his new album “Wheelhouse“ today, and included on the album is a song that is gaining national attention because of its name and message.
“Accidental Racist,” featuring rap artist and actor LL Cool J, talks about Paisley’s experiences dealing with race issues as a white man in the South and how he feels the subject is largely avoided. In the song, he sings about someone walking into a coffee shop wearing a shirt with a Confederate flag on it. LL Cool J answers later on in the song with his response:
“I’m just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms,” Paisley sings. “Looking like I got a lot to learn.”
“If you don’t judge my gold chains,” LL Cool J responds in the song, “I’ll forget the iron chains.”
The album’s release sparked a conversation on NPR as it happened to coincide with the launch of a new program on NPR titled “Code Switch,” which focuses on “overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities,” according to its “About Us” page.
Since its release, social media websites have been abuzz over the song, debating its motives and whether it is racist. Time published an article titled “Is ‘Accidental Racist’ accidentally racist? Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s track makes waves” about reactions on the Internet.
Paisley told USA Today that he is trying to broaden his views on his new album:
“As far as what’s my wheelhouse, what’s my comfort zone, that’s growing a little bit” on the new album, Paisley says. “If things that are way outside of it enhanced my telling a story or being interesting and unexpected, that’s what I wanted to do.”
Paisley said he is aware the subject is sensitive and that he is trying to approach it appropriately. In an interview he told Entertainment Weekly the following:
“Symbols mean things, and I know one thing: It just doesn’t do any good to blatantly do things and be like, ‘Just get over it.’ That’s not what we’re saying. This is a very sensitive subject, and we’re trying to have the discussion in a way that it can help.”
The consensus is still undecided on whether or not Paisley and LL Cool J’s “Accidental Racist” is indeed accidentally racist or simply broadening horizons.