'Accidental Racist' by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J: Are these song lyrics offensive?

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comApril 8, 2013 

It's hard to discuss race relations through music, and even harder when you're dealing with a country-rap collaboration.

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J learned that lesson Monday. Their new collaboration, "Accidental Racist," made waves online -- and not exactly in a good way. The song kicks off with Paisley singing about wearing a Confederate flag shirt in Starbucks. He sings, "The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the South."

In response, a Daily Beast writer quips, "Somehow? There might be something about the 'Dixie' flag as a symbol of the slave trade of human beings that could be a reason."

As the song progresses, Paisley continues to state his case with lyrics like, "I'm proud of where I'm from but not everything we've done/And it ain't like you and me can rewrite history."

Eventually, LL Cool J steps in with a rap interlude suggesting he, too, is misunderstood. He raps, "I wasn't there when Sherman's March turned the South into firewood."

Later, when the singers' voices combine, LL Cool J raps, "If you don't judge my do-rag, I won't judge your red flag."

Yes, this is a real song, Paisley told Entertainment Weekly.

As "Accidental Racist" trended on Twitter Monday, some reactions echoed a common sentiment -- the road to pop culture controversy is sometimes paved with good intentions.

It's hard to condense a topic as complicated as race relations in the South into an approximately six-minute song. Sure, some artists have successfully tackled divisive topics in song lyrics. However, the method limits your words to a certain extent and you end up simplifying things that maybe shouldn't be simplified.

Needless to say, including the phrase "RIP Robert E. Lee" in a rap is a little, um, weird -- or at least unconventional.

Listen to the song and tell me what you think. Read all the lyrics here.

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