Rapper, country singer spark race row

LL Cool J. Photo/AP
LL Cool J. Photo/AP

Country singer Brad Paisley and LL Cool J have been met with a storm of derision after releasing a duet described as "a strong contender for the worst song of all time".

Accidental Racist begins with Paisley, a rising country star, trying to apologise to a Starbucks employee for wearing a shirt emblazoned with a Confederate flag into his shop.

"To the man who waited on me/At the Starbucks down on main/I hope you understand/When I put on that T-shirt I only meant to say that I'm a Skynard fan," he says.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band name-checked, are a country group known for their pride in their southern roots.

The secessionist Confederate states fought to keep slavery in place in the US Civil War.

Paisley goes on to lament being caught between 'southern pride and southern blame'.

LL Cool J issues a response about 3 minutes 40 seconds in the song, saying he feels like a "new-fangled Django dogging invisible white hoods".

He eventually comes to an accord with Paisley, rapping: "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 ... Let bygones be bygones."

Most commentators say Accidental Racist only succeeds at being accidentally racist itself.

Listen to the song here.

Political website Salon said Accidental Racist was "a strong contender for worst song of all time".

Pop Dust said at its worst the song was guilty of making racism and slavery a moral equivalent to differences over fashion.

Gawker said the song was "horrible" and The Hairpin said it was a "lyrical disgrace filled with awkward non-apologies and faux-pensiveness over the history of racism in the south".

Meanwhile, the song has been blasted by thousands using the hashtag #accidentalracist on Twitter.

However, Accidental Racist does have its backers.

One Gawker commentator pointed out the song may not be a literal first person narrative from Paisley and may even represent progress for southern country music.

"Uh, I think this is awesome. I am a Southerner by birth, and compared to the ridiculous s*** that is normally played on country radio, this song is positively radical...

"It appears to me that he is trying to write from the perspective of his audience and represent where their misguided hearts are. It's not going to win a Peabody, but for the Deep (and broken, f****d-up) South, it's a start."

- nzherald.co.nz

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