The newly released song “Accidental Racist” by country singer Brad Paisley and rapper LL Cool J certainly lives up to its name. Its controversial lyrics about race relations in the South have led critics to deem it “the worst song ever.” Still, Paisley defended the song on the Tonight Show, saying “I thought maybe it would be an interesting conversation between country music and rap music to deal with this subject between two individuals, in a loving and understanding way.”
Paisley’s goal of inspiring a “loving and understanding” dialogue on racism in America is a positive one. Why, then, was the message received so poorly?
Let’s talk take a closer look at the lyrics:
It’s not that the public misunderstands what Paisley and LL Cool J’s lyrics mean, or that they necessarily disagree with the singers’ intent. Rather, they interpret the symbols of racism in entirely different ways than the singers do. In effect, Paisley’s good intentions are lost because the audience does not relate to the lyrics, and the artists come off as “accidentally ignorant.”