Most people agree that the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J duet “Accidental Racist” is well-intentioned. Both have indicated a willingness to spark a national dialogue about lingering racism in the country through the song, from Paisley’s new album, “Wheelhouse.”
But it’s LL’s verse in particular that has a lot of people completely baffled, if not outraged. The chief bone of contention is LL’s line: “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.”
Forget the iron chains? Really?
Much of the criticism on social media following the song’s release this week targeted LL for equating excessive bling with slave shackles in the lyric. The rapper, however, says the provocative rhyme was designed to get people talking about race, even if you disagree.
“Music is about … connecting different people, and building bridges and breaking the rules,” the rapper tells CNN. “If it’s not compelling, and it’s not complex and it’s not interesting, then what are we doing it for? So I think that’s the right move.”
“I needed to do something that was going to be interesting like that, and shake things up, and jump out of the box,” he said. “I’m really proud of it, and I hope the world hears it and enjoys it.”
LL also said that Paisley’s direct reference to slavery in the song didn’t faze him.
“Brad’s not afraid to express himself,” LL tells Parade in a new interview. “What other country artist, or any artist right now, talks about slavery?”
As for Paisley, he tells Ellen DeGeneres of the song: “I just think art has a responsibility to lead the way. 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.”