Racism: a person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.
There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle in the past 24 hours about one of the songs on the new Brad Paisley album, “Wheelhouse.” The song is called “Accidental Racist” and is full of ambiguous lyrics, befitting the not-quite-contrite title.
The song opens with our protagonist at Starbucks, having an imaginary conversation with the barista, presumable black. Brad is explaining why he is wearing a confederate flag on his shirt: he’s just a simple Skynyrd fan, y’all! So Brad is starting the song by pleading ignorance.
We then move to the chorus, which points out that all the bad stuff that happened to the blacks (you know, slavery and all) was years and years ago, not this generation whatsoever. So honestly how long are we really going to keep talking about it? Message: get over it.
Enter LL Cool J to give some cred to the country boy. LL earnestly raps about how he makes assumptions about white people, as well. For instance, he’s uneasy when he sees someone in a cowboy hat. Or a t-shirt displaying a confederate flag. Conclusion: both Brad and LL are at fault of stereotyping…or neither are. Somehow Brad is off the hook either way.
So maybe the point of the song is to be wishy washy, in which case Brad can claim success since he doesn’t seem to be committing to any particular stance. He has put just enough nuggets of potential racism in to create some hoopla around the new album, but the presence of a black rapper (albeit one from New York, hardly the deep south) excludes him from actually being racist.
While Brad may have balanced the line, he’s also wasted a good opportunity to say something interesting, instead saying not much. Is he accidentally racist? More like intentionally vague. On top of it all, I didn’t think it was really that great of a song. I listened to it probably a half dozen times and found it to be rather forgettable.
Here is Brad’s Twitter sequence pitching his album; I’ve maintained the integrity of the tweets by leaving the lack of spacing intact. Admittedly, he’s referencing the whole album, not just “Accidental Racist”:
1. So,as you buy this album,I hope it triggers emotions. I hope you feel joy,heartache,triumph,surprise; you laugh,cry,nudge someone beside you
2. …I hope the album rocks you,soothes you,raises questions,answers,evokes feelings, all the way through until Officially Alive
3. ‘Cause I wouldn’t change a thing. This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya’ll. love- brad
And there you have it.
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Filed under: Album Reviews