Brad Paisley + LL Cool J Knew ‘Accidental Racist’ Would Stir the Pot
The song frames a conversation between a white man who walks into a restaurant wearing a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag and the black man who waits on him. Many websites have jumped on the song as unintentionally hilarious, and some have even claimed it actually helps to promote racism, rather than question it.
“Just heard the ‘Accidental Racist’ man that Weird Al is amazing,” musician Questlove posted to Twitter on Monday (April 8).
LL Cool J tells USA Today that the controversy was inevitable. “I knew that it would stir the pot up a little bit,” he admits. “But I thought it was truthful and authentic and real.”
He hopes the song can start a dialogue that includes two different types of fans who might not normally be aware of the same things. “I hope they hear his side, and they hear my side,” he says. “Ultimately, all I want people to do is think for themselves. Listen to it, and let your thoughts take you where they take you. It’s really about art and about getting people to talk and feel each other. It made me think differently about a white man from the South. That’s an elephant in the room, something I never even thought about.”
Paisley tells Parade magazine that his intent was only to try to raise questions, not tell fans what the answers have to be. “There were some things I wanted to say from my perspective as a Southerner, like, ‘Contrary to what some people may think about Southerners who fly the Rebel flag or wear it, I hate slavery. I hate the fact that it happened. I can’t change it, and more than anything I want to know how we get past it,’” he observes. “It’s definitely not by forgetting it, and it’s also not by having it rubbed in anybody’s nose.”
He asked LL Cool J to write his own parts for the song in order to facilitate a real dialogue. “And he said, ‘Anything I want?’ I said, ‘Whatever you want. You want to tell me, ‘Screw you’ — great. You want to tell me, ‘Here’s how I feel’ — do it. You want to say, ‘You know, you got it all wrong’ — whatever,’” Paisley recalls. “I don’t care what you say there as long as it’s honest and real.’ So he listens [to it] and he goes, ‘This is important. I’m in. It just feels like it’s something we need to do.’”
The rapper took the music away and listened, then came in and wrote his parts in the studio. “I remember the first time that I heard him say, ‘I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here,’” Paisley says. “And thinking, ‘That’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever heard anybody say about that.’”
‘Accidental Racist’ appears on Paisley’s new album ‘Wheelhouse,’ which was released on Tuesday (April 9).