LL Cool J & Brad Paisley lyrics on race relations creates negative stir within both music genres.
Music has long been celebrated as a language all of its own. Nonetheless, industry trendsetters LL Cool J. and Brad Paisley are being taking to task for what critics blast as their naïve lyrics on the issue of race relations.
Conceptually ambitious by current industry standards, critics, ranging from The Roots’ Questlove, to comedian Patton Oswalt, nonetheless instantly took to Twitter this week to lambast the duo’s simplistic take on such a complex matter as race relations, as well as chastise them over the false comparisons they so rhythmically trumpet as truisms.
"Just heard the "Accidental Racist" man that Weird Al (Yankovic) is amazing," Questlove tweeted of the yesteryear parodist known for infamously spoofing such classic tunes as Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
He later added, reaction to it should rival all the backlash raised by the recent Rick Ross tune in which some charged he was glorifying the act of date rape. “I expect "Accidental Racist" to get equal amounts of discussion and dialogue," he wrote.
Mission accomplished. Earlier this week, songwriter Paisley, on whose new “Wheelhouse” album the collaboration can be heard, took to the airwaves to defend its lyrics and intended message.
"I felt like when we were writing this song, it wasn't necessarily up to the media and I don't really trust Hollywood ... or talk radio or anything like that to sort of deal with that anymore,” Paisley told Ellen DeGeneres during an airing of her show this week. “I think it’s music’s turn to have the conversation."
But just how substantive can any talks be when the crux of the conversation centers on such a suspect theme of generalities?
“If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains.., just because my pants are sagging doesn’t mean I’m up to no good. If you don’t judge my do-rag I won’t judge your red flag,” LL opines throughout the song.
With that, the effort, quite offensively, I might add, does as much harm as the good it purports to strive for, sophomorically advancing the crude stereotype that far more than the five or so percent of blacks who chose to present themselves in such ways even exist.
“Let bygone be bygones,” a call and response interaction by the artists implore us as its beats build to a crescendo. But how are we do that when, as even LL concedes, so much of “the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs fixin.” So much of what was wrong back then still remains wrong now.
The LL Cool J’s of the world remain roughly ten times as likely to be unemployed and incarcerated as the Brad Paisleys. Now that’s a tune we’d all be better served to engage ourselves with.