A few years back, I used to play country music on the radio.
And I enjoyed it very much.

Ironically, at the same time, I was also playing dance, house and hip hop on another radio station.

It was like going back and forth between 2 different worlds.

I knew full well both audiences were radically different and that “never the twain shall meet”, so to speak.

So in ’94, when the “Rhythm Country and Blues” album came out, featuring African American artists and White Country artists singing R and B songs, I thought, “this is ambitious; but how will the audience react.

I got my answer in a hurry.

Playing “Rainy Night in Georgia”, a duet featuring Sam Moore of “Hold On, I’m Comin’” fame, and Conway Twitty; I got my answer, when one caller told me to get that “n----r s—t” off the radio.

So much for joining together two disparate audiences.

But some in the music industry won’t give up.

Like country artist Brad Paisley.

On his brand new album, he teams up with LL Cool Jay on a song entitled “Accidental Racist” that takes on the differences between the urban, African American experience; and the white Southerner world, in an attempt to help the one side try to understand the other.

Sometimes “ambitious” can veer into “corny”.

If that’s the case, then this is a box of Kix!

The song starts out with a guy apologizing for the Confederate flag on his T-shirt to a worker he encountered at the local Starbucks. As his protagonist sings, “when I put on that T-shirt, the only thing I meant to say, is I’m a Skynyrd fan.”

“I’m proud of where I’m from,” the chorus goes, “but not everything we’ve done.” And his protagonist does admit that he’s “got a lot to learn,” and ultimately, “I just want to make things right.”

In the back half of the song, guest artist LL Cool J steps in with a counterpoint to Brad’s “white cowboy hat” POV. LL’s lines include lyrics like, “Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good/You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would.”

And the point they seem to be trying to make is that judgement is a two-way street. As LL continues, “When I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinking it’s not all good/I guess we’re both guilty of judging the cover and not the book.”

LL eventually concludes, “If you don’t judge my do-rag, I won’t judge your red flag.” So, all good, right?

Well, no, it's not!

While some might see the song as a sincere attempt at mending centuries of racial tension, others who’ve heard it find that the lines about “Southern pride” and “red flags” only fuel the flames of a still-hot issue.

As The Hairpin writes, “the song is a lyrical disgrace filled with awkward non-apologies and faux-pensiveness over the history of racism in the south.” Jezebel calls it “a mournful ballad about how hard it is to be a white man.” And Salon simply slams it as “a strong contender for the worst song of all time,” citing that whatever apologies Brad’s protagonist is making are “deeply conditional.”

Brad himself appears ready for all this–and ready to continue the conversation. As he told Entertainement Weekly, “This isn’t a stunt. I’m [releasing the song] because it just feels more relevant than it even did a few years ago. I think that we’re going through an adolescence in America when it comes to race.”

Halfway through writing, Brad got the idea to include LL Cool J. “I wanted [his] perspective. LL being such a tremendously respectable, wonderful guy. To hear what he thinks and his point of view in this song. Being from the north, being black, and how he feels about the subject. It really meant the world to me that he was willing to do this.”

“He’s very creative and courageous to do this, in the sense that this isn’t a typical thing to sing about.”

Brad says that they both realized that they weren’t “answering questions” with the song. “But we are maybe asking some questions. And that’s the first step to finding answers.”

Ultimately, Brad calls the song “one of my proudest moments as a songwriter.”
It’s too bad he has to take heat for it.

I get the attempt, but the result: not so much!

Brad’s at his best getting “Mud on the Tires”; and LL’s strong suit is looking for his “Around the Way Girl”