Brad Paisley's latest song, featuring a guest rap from LL Cool J, is called "Accidental Racist," and sure does start off swell. But, long before the abrupt and poorly written rap laid down by "Ladies Love" kicks in, it devolves into "Saturday Night Live" sketch territory. Except for the fact that it's not; it's deadly serious. It's also -- which is important to note -- well-intentioned, as well as it is territory mined before, and with much better results (more on that in a moment).
Yes, the song has "ignited controversy" -- not the most difficult feat these days. Folks are offended. Country music fans don't like the description Paisley utilizes for their ilk, nor do African-Americans love the "cover" LL paints that their "book" is being judged by. Plus, there's the time-honored "sell-out" grenade being lobbed in generously by both sides. Sides.....when it comes to a song with a goal of eradicating just that, one that encourages understanding, backing off (and down) and even sitting down and having a beer together.
That last part is what offends me. No, not the concept of sitting down for a beer with someone you've decided you don't like solely due to his or her appearance; it offends me lyrically. LL thinks his Cool can render us susceptible to rhyming "frankly" with "Yankee" and "Red flag" with "do-rag" and "Mason/Dixon" with "fixin.'" There shoulda been some nixin.' Shame on the producer who facilitated this fiasco for not one single objection regarding lyrics!
For the record, I've seen both Paisley and LL in concert before. I fell asleep during the former's borderline-"Hee Haw" extravaganza and had a blast at the latter's "Mama Said Knock You Out" triumphant comeback (even as he declared, "Don't call it a comeback"). As far as personality is concerned, they are both extremely likable and genuine. Musically, I'd rather cue up some Cool J over some Paisley, but that's besides the point. Even on paper a duet would have been laughable to me. Sure, drop the opening of "Sweet Home Alabama" in the middle of a rap record, but a rap in the middle of a Southern-fried ditty is decidedly more difficult to pull off. This doesn't.
As for the subject, the civility implored with music as the mean.: Been there, done that. And better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sssqBjaTzOU