Brad Paisley and LL Cool J ‘Accidental Racist’ song raises eyebrows

Wheelhouse cover

(CNN) — LL Cool J’s collaboration with Brad Paisley, “Accidental Racist,” has kicked up a lot of dust, but the rapper seems to have expected as much.

As he told CNN, the song, which is from Paisley’s newly released album “Wheelhouse,” is a “bold statement” not just for country music, but for music in general.

LL joined the country star in offering what they bill as two sides to a story on race relations, prejudice and stereotypes in the U.S. Paisley sings from the perspective of “a white man comin’ to you from the Southland,” one who would wear a Confederate flag on his shirt to show that he’s a “Skynyrd fan.”

“They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears. We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years,” Paisley says in the song. “I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin. But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin. … I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done, and it ain’t like you and me can re-write history. Our generation didn’t start this nation, and we’re still paying for mistakes that a bunch of folks made long before we came.”

In his verse, rapper/actor LL takes the perspective of a “new fangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods.”

“Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood what the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood,” LL rhymes in the song. “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. Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood – I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood. I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could … So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good.”

He concludes his verse with a peace offering, rapping, “I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book. I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air. But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here.”

Paisley’s reps haven’t responded to CNN’s request for comment, but they did confirm that “Accidental Racist” was written by the country singer, along with LL Cool J and Lee Thomas Miller.

When CNN caught up with LL at Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, he said he felt the song accomplished what art is supposed to be.

“Music is about, and art is about, connecting different people, and building bridges and breaking the rules,” he said. “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.”

Plus, he concluded, he wanted to do something that was a little different from what he usually offers.

“I needed to do something that was going to be interesting like that, and shake things up, and jump out of the box,” he told CNN. “I’m really proud of it, and I hope the world hears it and enjoys it.”

Accidental Racist Lyrics

Brad Paisley:
To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view
I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame
They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin
But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin
‘Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland
Just like you I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for the mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

LL Cool J:
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood
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
Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood
I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could
Feel like a newfangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book
I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here
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
Can’t re-write history baby
The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’
Quite frankly I’m a black Yankee but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately
The past is the past, you feel me
Let bygones be bygones
RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean

Brad Paisley:
I’m just a white man
Comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from
But not everything we’ve done
It ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Oh, Dixieland
I hope you understand what this is all about
I’m a son of the new south
And I just want to make things right
Where all that’s left is southern pride
It’s real, it’s real
It’s truth